Second in our series on institutions involved in the Smart City arena, we take a look at the contribution from a California based, non-profit international association.

Today, all Cities want to be Smart. More and more cities worldwide are committing to simplified daily lives and a brighter future for their citizens using the latest technologies. But imagine the complexity of using cutting edge technologies and massive amounts of data in innovative ways within an already complex and dynamic city.

Organizations and alliances between public and private organizations, and including individual proponents, are materializing around the world to help promote and support the development of smart solutions with guidelines, standardization of technologies and data, and the sharing of ideas and experiences.The City Protocol Society is one such organization.


The City Protocol Society (CPS) was officially launched in November of 2012, following months of planning and decision-making by an Interim Steering Committee. A year later, the society was a fully operational non-profit international association. Their vision is ambitious: “Better cities for everyone, worldwide…”. The approach is a new open and global working framework for cities worldwide to assess and improve performance in environmental sustainability, economic competitiveness, quality of life, and city services.

The CPS manages the City Protocol Programme, delivering City Protocol Agreements (CPAs) (i.e. information and recommendations) to address issues as agreed among the member cities. Typical deliverables include:

  • Benchmark projects and policies to be used as examples
  • Indicators and certifications for benchmark projects and policies
  • Recommendations
  • Technological information

The CP Programme addresses the challenge of identifying commonalities among cities despite their unique mixes of opportunities, threats, strengths, and weaknesses. While no city can simply copy another’s path into the future, identification of suitable partners allows shared problems to be tackled together.


The CPS is a community of cities, companies, academia and other organizations that leverages knowledge and experience in cities worldwide to accelerate sustainable transformation. It offers curated guidance and collaborative action so that cities do not have to navigate their transformation journeys alone.

The CP Board of Directors (CPBD) governs all legal and fiduciary affairs of the CPS, and is responsible for membership. The Cities of Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Quito, along with Cisco, GDF Suez, Computation Institute – the University of Chicago, and the New York Academy of Sciences, formed the original CPBD. The CPBD has grown since its inception, with Dubai being promoted to the board at a recent meeting in Amsterdam.

The General Assembly is comprised of representatives from all of the member institutions and is responsible for governance, establishment of strategy, and management of operations; the CP Task Force (CPTF) carries out those operations. The CPTF is an open community of volunteer non-member institutions and individuals who complete the activities necessary to develop CPAs and is organized into Task-And-Finish-Teams (TAFTs) – typically small, delivery-focused teams with a well-defined charter that includes objectives and milestones meant to address a particular transformational challenge to cities. Each TAFT is aligned and integrated within a thematic area identified in the City Anatomy.

And we arrive at the City Anatomy – the heart of the CPS!

The City Anatomy provides a common language with which to describe the different key features of city life. It takes into consideration three systems: Structure (environment, infrastructures, built domain), Information (platform, economy, governance), Society (culture, functions, people). This tiered conceptual approach aims at setting the stage for effective city governance, evaluation and transformation while providing cities with a common structure to describe their unique set of challenges and opportunities to each other, in a way that helps them discover what commonalities they might share.

The City Anatomy is a visual depiction of the concept that cities, like living organisms, take in, process, and release resources continuously. It establishes a common language for talking about the complexity of cities, opens up new opportunities for knowledge transfer between cities, and creates a foundation upon which to build effective tools for transforming cities.

“City Anatomy: A Framework to Support City Governance, Evaluation and Transformation is the first CPA issued by the CPTF and is currently available for public comment at


The CPS assists all types of organizations to connect, learn, share, collaborate, and implement city transformation. City leaders can build on the learning of others, share the development and procurement of large transformations, and locate proven expertise globally to build the solutions, thereby minimizing risk and improving cost effectiveness. Promotion of the organizations developing standards and evaluation tools, and a framework based on the CA, will clarify how the results might be best used in plans for a city’s sustainable future.

Dave Welsh of Corporate Standards at Microsoft says, “I’m excited about the work the CPS is doing to facilitate city-to-city learning and exchange. Not only are they taking the right approach to standards, systems modeling and ontology, and visualization, but they also have a unique vision for instrumenting and automating the City Anatomy that should enable leaders to manage rapid urban growth. This is something I haven’t seen anywhere else.”

In addition to the City Anatomy, TAFTs are actively working on CPAs for Open Sensors Platform, Urban Metabolism Information Systems, and Data Interoperability and City Indicators.


The City Protocol Society is poised to play a key role in the transformation of cities via the networking and partnership of cities, companies, academia, and other organizations, jointly with the research and delivery of the Task-And-Finish-Teams. Become a CPS member at or register for the CPTF at


Next up we will take a look at the CABA Intelligent & Integrated Buildings Council…

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