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How does your city compare to others? New ISO standard to measure up

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A landmark ISO standard outlining key measurements for evaluating a city's service delivery and quality of life has just been published. Its use will help city managers, politicians, researchers, business leaders, planners, designers and other professionals to focus on key issues, and put in place policies for more livable, tolerant, sustainable, resilient, economically attractive and prosperous cities.

Why do we need city indicators?

Currently, 53 % of the world’s population resides in cities, a figure that is expected to rise to 70 % by 2050. Cities are cultural and economic centres which today generate 70 % of the global GDP. Investing in them may be a priority for many governments, but doing so sustainably and effectively can be a challenge – this where ISO 37120:2014 can help.



The indicators included in ISO 37120:2014 will help cities to assess their performance and measure progress overtime, with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life and sustainability. The standard’s uniform approach will enable cities to seamlessly compare where they stand in relation to other cities. This information can in turn be used to identify best practice and learn from one another.

Areas covered by ISO 37120:2014

  • Economy
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Finance
  • Fire and emergency response
  • Governance
  • Health
  • Recreation
  • Safety
  • Shelter
  • Solid waste
  • Telecommunications and innovation
  • Transportation
  • Urban planning
  • Wastewater
  • Water and sanitation

Is it for me?

ISO 37120:2014 can be used by any city, municipality or local government wishing to measure its performance in a comparable and verifiable manner, irrespective of size and location or level of development.

First of its kind

ISO 37120:2014 is the first ISO standard for city indicators. It is being developed as part of an integrated suite of standards for sustainable development in communities.

The standard will be launched on 15 May during a global cities summit organized by the Global City Indicators Facility, one of the organizations involved in its development.


Benefits of ISO 37120:2014
  • More effective governance and delivery of services
  • International benchmarks and targets
  • Local benchmarking and planning
  • Informed decision making for policy makers and city managers
  • Learning across cities
  • Leverage for funding and recognition in international entities
  • Leverage for funding by cities with senior levels of government
  • Framework for sustainability planning
  • Transparency and open data for investment attractiveness
  • Comparable data for city decision making, insight and global benchmarking