Kicking off our series on institutions involved in the Smart City arena, we take a look at the contribution from a global telecom heavy weight. 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 ITU is generally known for developing recommendations (or standards) defining how telecommunications networks operate, and producing guides, handbooks, technical papers, and other related publications. Recognizing a specific need for the technical standardization of Smart City initiatives, the (ITU-T) created the Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities (FG-SSC) in February 2013. The group is scheduled to run until May of 2015, unless extended for another year. Its remit is quite simple:

“The FG-SSC acts as an open platform for smart-city stakeholders – such as municipalities; academic and research institutes; non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and ICT organizations, industry forums and consortia – to exchange knowledge in the interests of identifying the standardized frameworks needed to support the integration of ICT services in smart cities.”

To facilitate this knowledge exchange, the FG-SSC holds regular meetings and events, and hosts online discussions regarding Smart Cities and the role of ICT resulting in technical reports and specifications. The tasks and deliverables of the group are:

  • Defining the role of ICTs in environmentally sustainable smart cities, and identifying the ICT systems necessary to their development;
  • Identifying or developing a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to gauge the success of smart-city ICT deployments;
  • Establishing relationships and liaison mechanisms with other bodies engaged in smart-city studies and development;
  • Identifying future smart-city standardization projects to be undertaken by its parent group, ITU-T Study Group 5;
  • Developing a roadmap for the ICT sector’s contribution to Smart Sustainable Cities, providing cohesion to the development and application of technologies and standards.


The FG-SSC is positioned under Study Group 5 – Environment and Climate Change in the ITU-T organization.  Participation in the group is open to anyone from one of the almost 200 ITU Member States; the management team is comprised of individuals from within the telecom industry, academia, and public service spanning from the USA to Singapore, and including the UAE.

Commenting on the election of Engineer Nasser Saleh Al Marzouqi as Vice Chairman, H.E. Eng. Majed Sultan Al Mesmar of the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said: “We are proud of gaining new responsibilities in the ITU as these reflect the UAE’s continuous efforts to play an active role in the ITU global events…and since we will continue to actively participate in ITU’s activities and international conference moving forward.


  • Working Group 1 ICT role and roadmap for SSC
  • Working Group 2 SSC infrastructure
    • Infrastructure
    • Security
    • Buildings
    • Water Management
    • Climate Adaptation
    • EMF
    • Integrated Management
    • Open Data
  • Working Group 3 KPIs and metrics for SSC
    • Standardization
    • KPIs
  • Working Group 4 Policy and positioning
    • Stakeholders
    • Energy Efficiency


If you have heard a Smart City defined as:

“…an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social and environmental aspects,”

then you are already familiar with the influence of the FG-SSC on Smart City initiatives worldwide!

While there are a number of approved and anticipated deliverables from the group already, including technical reports on the role of ICT in smart and sustainable cities, it is probably best known for its efforts in standardization and development of key performance indicators (KPIs).

The current effort of standardization prioritizes the development of a framework based on three (3) categories:  SSC Construction Management and Assessment Standard, ICT Standards, and SSC Service Standards.  With consideration to the other standard development bodies, special attention is paid to those areas that may have been left wanting and how they might be addressed.

The KPIs are being developed to assess the contribution of ICT in the development of smart sustainable cities.  The dimensions covered (see graphic to right) align with the definition that, in addition to technology, considers people and the environment.  The next set of KPI related deliverables from the group is scheduled for finalization in March 2015.


The International Telecoms Union has adapted its considerable expertise in formulating policy to standardizing the complex set of evolving systems and processes for the Smart Cities of tomorrow. The Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities has already been instrumental in defining the purpose of Smart Cities, and is currently setting out a range of KPIs on which these can be measures internationally.

Next up we will take a look at The City Protocol Society (CPS)…


“Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities” ITU, accessed 22-Dec-2014

Overview of the Activities of the ITU-T Focus Group on Smart sustainable Cities (FG-SSC)”, 27-Nov-2014, page 4.

“TRA Represents the UAE at the International Telecommunication Union Council in Geneva”, 29-Jun-2013

“Overview of the Activities of the ITU-T Focus Group on Smart sustainable Cities (FG-SSC)”, 27-Nov-2014, pages 33-38.

Karla Morrow, Senior Consultant

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