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ICT Symposium Adopts Roadmap on Smart, Sustainable Cities

ITU logo9 May 2013: Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are critical in creating smart sustainable cities and addressing climate change, according to participants at the Eighth International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Symposium on ICTs, the Environment and Climate Change. Participants adopted a 'Turin Roadmap' that calls on ITU to promote smart technologies in cities and develop key performance indicators to assess ICTs impacts in cities and countries around the world.

At the Symposium, held in Turin, Italy, from 6-7 May 2013, participants recognized that integrating ICTs into urban planning can facilitate economic growth and social well-being, resulting in increased access to healthcare and education as living standards improve. Participants also discussed, inter alia: climate change adaptation and mitigation; disaster preparedness; e-waste; and a transition to a green, resource efficient economy.

Noting that a city's infrastructure often develops more slowly than its population grows, Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General, said this creates challenges but also potential for economic growth and innovation, and that ICTs can make cities "safer, cleaner, and more convenient places to live.” He cited, for example, intelligent transport systems that can reduce pollution and traffic, and means to provide more efficient electricity distribution and reduce water consumption.

Participants also discussed coordinated, internationally-standardized technologies in sustaining smart cities. Malcolm Johnson, ITU, said seamless inter-operations, including harmonized frequency spectrum and international standards among service providers and vendors, is necessary to ensure that ICTs support urban development.

The Turin Roadmap, titled 'Towards a Planet of Smart Sustainable Cities,' outlines ten areas through which ITU can build smart, sustainable cities, including: standardizing methodologies for assessing ICTs' environmental impact; carrying out pilot projects; and disseminating best practices. It recommends monitoring ICTs' sustainability impact through air and water quality indices, access to green areas and waste recycling rates. The roadmap further recommends promoting behavioral change for sustainable development. It notes opportunities for collaboration on smart cities with several UN agencies.

Participants shared their conclusions with the Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities, which will promote adoption of international standards to support smart sustainable cities and implement the Roadmap. Telecom Italia hosted the two-day event. [ITU Press Release] [Publication: Turin Roadmap] [Symposium Website]