Laying the foundation for sustainable development goals: role of smart sustainable cities

2 May 2016 14:30h

Event report

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Panellists were challenged to address the topic of sustainable development and explain the role of smart cities in the process of achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Dr Nasser Al Marzouqui (Chaiman, ITU-TSG20 IoT and its Applications including Smart Cities and Communities (SC&C)) expressed his delight that the world has the chance to build secure and citizen-oriented cities. He urged all the participants to work together to achieve this.

Ms Gulnara Roll (Head, Housing and Land Management Unit, UNECE) highlighted the role of regulatory standards to help achieve sustainable development. By comparing the European and Asian experiences, Roll estimated that the use of traditional tools by Asian cities was taking into account providing quality of life.

Ms Cristina Bueti (ITU Advisor responsible for ICT) shed some light on the activities of the ITU to bridge the digital divide. She explained that the ITU works on capacity building in terms of sustainable development through publishing annual technical reports online. On a second level, by collaborating to develop and implement international standards, it has helped develop the definition of the term SDG and is working with the United Nations on shaping the SDG agenda. Bueti expressed her belief that standards on the Internet of Things alleviate development challenges and that the development of standards is an enabler of a sustainable community.

Ms Domenica Carriero (UNECE Project Manager) estimated that from the UNECE side, the main purpose is to ensure decent, affordable, and healthy housing for all and to improve the sustainability of the housing. She sketched the UNECE’s main activities as developing standards, developing Smart Sustainable City profiles, establishing a City Action Plan, and building capacity.

Mr Rodrigo Carneiro (Global Account Manager, International Public Sector, Vodafone) provided four examples of the important role of public-private partnerships in achieving sustainable development in Africa.

His first example was M-PESA, an initiative by people in Kenya to (a) bank without a bank account by using simple-feature phones and (b) to use the communication system to exchange data between people and clinics to reduce treatment costs related to transport. The second example was a maternity healthcare phone application. The third is Vaccination Data, a simple solution to help healthcare organisations and governments stay informed by linking together. The fourth example was Connected Farmers, an application that enables farmers to get in touch with suppliers and stay informed about market prices.

Mr Reto Camponovo (Professor, Head of the Laboratory for Energy Environment and Architecture, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Western Switzerland) highlighted the urgent need to shift to smart cities using quantitative and qualitative data essential for policymakers. He contrasted the quantitative approach with a quantitative and qualitative approach which he deemed more sustainable to enable authorities and urban planners to develop reliable planning projects to improve the quality of the city for the benefit of all inhabitants.

Mr Bart de Lathouwer (Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)) highlighted the important role of standards in changing our lives. He predicted that the world will witness more innovative solutions that require systematic approaches provided by the use of standards. He shed some light on the work of OGC which consists of establishing a guideline for policy-making along with setting a project that consist of a ‘conceptual Smart City information framework’ to help creators of innovative solutions. He estimates that standards are the key element to cost reduction and an open market and emphasised the importance of engaging all the different stakeholders.

The session provided a rich discussion and inputs about standards and innovation as the drivers of smart cities.

by Dawahi Khouloud