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Designing the standards that cities need
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In the IEC, we are proud of our work to enable electricity to be generated, distributed, and used safely and efficiently around the world and to support the move to net zero. We also have an important role in standardising the electronics that are the foundation of so much of modern life.

However, we are also realistic. Electricity and electronics are only of value because of what they enable. They are fundamental requirements of almost all of the systems which support the needs of people and cities, but they would be useless without quality management processes, effective use of data and the contribution of many other specialist technologies.

Therefore, in order to develop the standards that the world needs, it is not enough for the IEC to focus on the narrow requirements related to each specific electrical or electronic component. It is equally important for technical committees to understand the systems within which that component is used and the way those systems work, to make sure that our IEC standards fully address what is needed.

This is why the IEC set up the Systems Committee on Smart Cities in 2016.

Most standards committees are focused on the supply side - how to make the technology work. However, the IEC System Committee on Smart Cities is focused more on the demand side – what the city, its people, and the city systems such as transport, water, waste, health etc, require of the electrical and electronics standards in order to enable those systems to work effectively.

We make some standards, for instance IEC 63152 City service continuity against disasters - The role of the electrical supply. However, our main role is to gain a deep understanding of cities and city systems and then to develop tools to make it easy for IEC technical committees to see how their focused standards work fits in with the wider requirements of smart cities.

To understand city systems, we review each system individually, map out how it works as a whole, then focus down at a more granular level to describe and analyse many specific real-world use cases within that system. The aim is to scope out the requirements of the families of standards needed to help solve city challenges. This is because to tackle a city need, a whole family of different types of standards is required – management, electronics, data, IoT, communications …  and these all need to be designed to work together

To develop guidance for standards committees and city stakeholders in general, we have set up a Joint Working Group with other international standards organisations to develop a common Smart City Reference Architecture to help identify commonalities between cities. We are also developing definitions of key terms and conceptual frameworks to enable a common understanding among standards committees, and city stakeholders.

Finally, we are busy cataloguing and mapping smart city related standards to help city stakeholders and standards bodies easily find the standards they need.

We need your help to do an effective job. Please contact me with any questions, comments or suggestions.

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