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Boston joins other Foundation Partners at World Council on City Data summit in London

Nov 17, 2014

Mayors and top city officials from around the world convened in London this week to formally release the first ever municipal data reported according to an international standard that allows cities to compare themselves directly with other cities globally. The initiative is being spearheaded by the Toronto-based World Council on City Data (WCCD), which named Boston as one of the group’s “Foundation Partners” earlier this year. Boston, currently the sole U.S. Foundation Partner, is helping to develop the vision and mandate for the council.

Alvaro Lima, Director of Research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority, is coordinating Boston’s participation in the WCCD. He joined his peers in London for the gathering, which is being billed as an opportunity for local leaders from around the world to spark a global conversation in the new universal language of cities: data.

By 2050, an estimated 70% of the world’s population will live in cities. Add to that the fact that, today, 70% of the world’s GDP is generated by cities. This unprecedented opportunity for urban areas requires an unprecedented ability to plan, manage, and predict. This is the charge for the WCCD.
The very first international standard on city metrics, published as ISO 37120 in May by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization, allows for cities to communicate with each other through a common set of 100 indicators that measure the performance of city services and quality of life. The participating cities and their indicators will be connected by a new WCCD open data web portal being launched as part of the summit.

If shared and used widely, standardized city indicators have the potential to be highly beneficial to policymakers and urban officials. They can help inform effective ways of governing and delivering city services, as cities worldwide will be able to use the indicators as benchmarks for planning and decision making. Standardized city metrics will also help promote transparency and collaboration between governments, the public, and other economic sectors.

“Standardized indicators generated under ISO 37120 facilitate learning across cities both locally and globally,” said Dr. Patricia McCarney, President and CEO of the WCCD.

Mr. Lima (pictured above along with the group) took part in a roundtable discussion about the initiative at London City Hall with other Foundation Partners, including representatives from Amsterdam, Amman, Barcelona, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Guadalajara, Haiphong, Helsinki, Johannesburg, London, Makati, Makkah, Minna, Melbourne, Rotterdam, Shanghai, Sao Paolo, and Toronto.
“We rely on good data to inform a lot of what we do in city government,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh in August when Boston became a Foundation Partner. “The chance to share best practices with such a diverse group of international cities is very exciting.”
Keep an eye on Twitter (@WCCityData, #WCCDSummit2014) for the latest developments from the summit.

Below is a map of the Foundation Partner cities.

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