Sustainable City Quality of Life Indicators in ISO 37120

An Asian sustainable city highway indicated by ISO 37120:2018.

ISO 37120:2018 – Sustainable cities and communities – Indicators for city services and quality of life has been released, revising the 2014 edition of the same international standard.

Sustainability has become a pillar of modern civilization, but the word can be thrown around carelessly. However, the potential for sustainability to be misused or misrepresented does not deflate the need for sustainable practices. In a world where the population has multiplied sevenfold over the past century, irreversible effects on the global climate are imminent, and decades of short-term thinking practices have eroded away at the certainty of future generations, sustainability is more important now than ever.

With more than half the global population living in urban areas, and this amount expected to increase to nearly 70 percent by mid-century, cities largely hold the responsibility to assure sustainability. However, at the local level, the means by which cities attempt to meet sustainable goals can be inconsistent, insignificant, or poorly-directed. Therefore, cities need indicators to measure their performance.

ISO 37120:2018 is part of a new series of international standards currently in development and offering a holistic and integrated approach to sustainable development, including indicators for city services, quality of life, smart cities, and resilient cities, to provide a uniform approach to what is measured and how these measurements are taken.

ISO 37120:2018 focuses on the indicators for city services and quality of life, offering guidance to measure performance management. It helps cities learn from one another by allowing uniform comparison across a wide range of performance measures, and it supports policy development and priority setting. It is applicable to any city, municipality, or local government that wants to measure its performance in a comparable and verifiable manner, irrespective of size and location.

In assisting cities in steering and assessing the performance management of city services and all service provisions, ISO 37120:2018 comprehensively outlines 19 sectors and services provided by a city: economy, education, energy, environment and climate change, finance, governance, health, housing, population and social conditions, recreation, safety, solid waste, sport and culture, telecommunication, transportation, urban/local agriculture and food security, urban planning, wastewater, and water.

For each of these, ISO 37120:2018 gives a key indicator that should be reported by any user implementing the document. The standard also identifies a profile indicator for each, as well as an assortment of supporting indicators. For example, for economy, the core indicator is the city’s unemployment rate. The logic behind determining this is that the unemployment rate is considered one of the most informative labor market indicators and reflects the health of the overall economy. In this section, the standard outlines how to accurately determine this core indicator. It also includes average household income as the profile indicator of the economy.

Maintaining, enhancing, and accelerating progress towards improved city services and quality of life is also fundamental to the definitions of smart cities and resilient cities. ISO 37120:2018 is intended to be used in conjunction with two standards currently in development, ISO 37122 and ISO 37123, which will offer indicators for measuring progress towards smart cities and resilient cities, respectively.

ISO 37120:2018 – Sustainable cities and communities – Indicators for city services and quality of life is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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2 thoughts on “Sustainable City Quality of Life Indicators in ISO 37120
  1. Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your website is extremely helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!

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