In a word, long – but incredibly rewarding. My work, resulting in the publication of ISO 37120 in 2014, and two subsequent standards (ISO 37122 Indicators for Smart Cities and ISO 37123 Indicators for Resilient Cities) in 2019, what we now refer to as the ISO 37120 Series for Cities, began as far back as my Ph.D. dissertation in the early ’80s.
What I came to realize throughout my journey with SCC and ISO is that most impactful standards start with a clear and defined challenge. In this case, it was that while there was no lack of city data available, the fact was – none of this city data was standardized, so cities could not be compared and cities could not learn from each other. As simple a measure as emergency response time (i.e. do we measure the time from the 911 emergency call or from the time of dispatch of the emergency vehicle?), was measured differently from one city to another.
Working within the University of Toronto, we began our ISO journey in 2012 – having tested the indicators with over 250 cities across 80 countries – and by the time ISO 37120 was published in 2014, I knew that it indeed would be a transformative catalyst for cities. With the publication of ISO 37120 – I also launched a Toronto-based not-for-profit called the World Council on City Data (WCCD), which started with a network of Twenty Foundation cities in 2014 (including for example cities across the globe from Dubai, to London, UK, to Toronto, to Los Angeles, to Johannesburg), and this global network has grown to almost 100 cities now across 35 countries as of 2020.
In addition to ISO 37120, the first ISO Standard ever published for city data, we have now started to certify cities in conformity with two new standards published in 2019: ISO 37122 Indicators for Smart Cities and ISO 37123 Indicators for Resilient Cities. This is referred to as the ISO 37120 Series. Throughout the entire process, SCC was with us the whole way. The leadership, counsel and support that SCC CEO Chantal Guay provided – both in our early days and recently – was essential in making this “Made in Canada” data solution for cities as pervasive and impactive as it has become. Without Chantal and the entire team at SCC – the WCCD would not be where it is today.