ISO 37120 standard as template for Smart City development

ISO 37120 standard as template for Smart City development

International standard ISO 37120 “Sustainable development of communities — Indicators for city services and quality of life” released in 2014 and revised in 2018, became the first successful effort of experts to create integrated view for performance analysis of urban areas. The standard provides uniform definitions of what is measured and how it should be done and introduced common basis for reporting, comparison and benchmarking.

“International Standard ISO 37120:2018 Establishes a set of standardized Core, Supporting and Profile indicators that provide a uniform approach to what is measured, and how that measurement is to be undertaken (  )”


The ISO 37120 defines 21 city themes of City Services and Quality of Life including as follows:

  1. Economy
  2. Education
  3. Energy
  4. Environment and climate change
  5. Finance
  6. Fire and Emergency Response
  7. Governance
  8. Health
  9. Housing
  10. Population and social conditions
  11. Recreation
  12. Safety
  13. Solid Waste
  14. Sport and culture
  15. Telecommunications
  16. Urban Planning
  17. Transportation
  18. Urban/local agriculture and food security
  19. Urban planning
  20. Wastewater
  21. Water

There are Core and Supporting and Profile Indicators as well as relevant Data Sources.  

ISO requires third party verification of data sources and quality for ISO standard certification.

Importance of Standard 

The ISO 37120 standard is important as it

  • Steers and guides sustainability, effective governance and delivery of services
  • Allows unified way of accessing city’s performance of services, infrastructure, institutions (especially outsourced) for all cities including small towns and big cities,
  • Improves city operations presenting its aggregated results
  • Increases transparency and accountability 
  • Leverages project funding, prioritizing city budgets for assessing quality of life,
  • Introduces transparency and open data fostering public/private infrastructure developments and investment attractiveness
  • Facilitates learning and use of methodology for continuous improvement and evidence based assessment 
  • Makes possible various benchmarking options, goals definition and comparative analysis in strategies and policies development and planning
  • Assists in building core knowledge for city decision-making and enabling comparative insight and global benchmarking
  • Supports new Open Data and new application development

Using the standard to make the digital twin running in real time

Smart City Monitor team used the ISO 37120 standard for the implementation of the sample digital twin model of a city as Big Urban System of Systems to run in cloud as transformation engine using the city open data set required by the standard. The sample data set is presented in 16 spreadsheet files that have simple formats and are easy to understand and update monthly.

Running at Smart City Monitor engine, the sample ISO 37120 digital twin model automatically imports local city data from these spreadsheets and transforms it into object standard themes and KPIs presented at online ISO 31720 Monitoring Dashboard and interactive reports about each theme and indicator. The rich analytics empowers the city administrations with effective tools for accelerated cost-effective implementation of their Smart City projects that lead to compliance with the ISO 37120 Standard and the certification. Being open and customisable, the ISO 37120 urban model can be further upgraded incorporating real city infrastructure objects and diverse linkages to all optional data sources including IoT, sensors, automated systems, databases and mobile apps.

The sample urban model by ISO 37120 runs immediately after the setting of Smart City Monitor engine using its sample data representing a city with ~ 60,000 population. The data in the 16 spreadsheet files can be easily replaced with the local city data and put to the different locations that are convenient for the local city data providers (e.g. Dropbox, Google docs, SCM engine, etc). When updated the data is automatically collected by the Smart City Monitor engine which calculates all KPIs and object sustainability statuses and updates stakeholders dashboards, reports and mobile apps proving full transparency of the city results in real time and presenting actual city performance accordingly to the ISO 37120 standard requirements.  

The running digital twin model by ISO 37120 is open and allows experimenting by adding various city infrastructure objects (districts, buildings, streets, resource and service providers and consumers, etc), and necessary custom indicators and linkages with local data sources (sensors, smart meters, IoT, city automated information systems) and enabling its monitoring and analytics and evaluation of sustainability in real time. 

The Smart City Monitor team is ready to support to city administration employees and utility providers and other customers and local partners in the quick and cost effective technology implementation, its learning, prototyping and training.

Smart City Monitor 37120 dashboard in real time

  • Is principally new powerful online tool assisting city administrations and utility providers in smart sustainable governance with practical conformity to ISO 37120 and other standards
  • Presents achievements that are transparent and verifiable online for all stakeholders supporting cost effective continuous compliance auditing
  • Fosters community achievements and continuous improvements in real time
  • Provides effective smart governance tools assisting in monitoring daily life operations and strongly improving productivity of employees
  • Supports certification needs of city administrations and elections proving the trustful evidence
  • Simplifies and decreases the certification costs of compliance with the ISO 37120 and other standards while increasing its practical value for cities as digital transformation tool.

Additional links

ISO 37120 Certification program by Association for Sustainable Innovative Development in Economics, Environment and Society (ASIDEES)

Download the presentation Assisting Smart Cities and Communities in ISO 37120 Certification and Smart Sustainable Governance