ISO releases standards for comparing city services worldwide

Measures gauge air quality, health, and other quality of life issues

June 13, 2014 |
Photo: E. Kvelland via Wikimedia Commons

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has created the first standards to compare services of the world’s cities. The standards provide a way to evaluate a city’s performance based on verified measures on many topics including education, public safety, water, and sanitation. Metrics include those related to air quality, green space, poverty, and health of the population.

ISO wants to encourage higher levels of city service delivery by making the data open and transparent. The data could improve cities’ credit and bond ratings, supporters say, and high-performing cities would be able to argue more forcefully for higher national government assistance and tax sharing. The system could make it tougher for politicians to hide inefficiencies in city policies and administration.

ISO standards makers may also develop measures focused on risk and resilience. Indicators under consideration include the presence of early warning systems focused on threats such as stormwater surges and tornados, or seismic preparedness. The standards are expected to make it easier for cities to compare themselves to others with similar population and characteristics.


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