World Economic Forum Unveils Smart Cities Alliance

Digital City and City Network of Chicago

The World Economic Forum (WEF) announced that 15 of the world’s leading city networks and technology governance organizations have formed the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on technology Governance to advance the ethical use of smart city technologies and develop global standards.  

In a statement, the WEF described the group as the “largest and most ambitious undertaking to advance the responsible and ethical use of smart city technologies on a global level.”

Initially proposed in June 2019 in conjunction with the G20, the Alliance’s 15 major city networks and technology governance organizations represent between them 200,000 cities and local governance organizations, as well as leading companies, start-ups, research institutions and civil society organizations.

The Alliance has committed to co-design and roll out a first-of-its-kind global policy framework on smart city technologies in advance of the 2020 G20 Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is currently accepting nominations from cities interested in piloting and contributing to global policy standards.

Smart city technologies can help cut decrease traffic congestions, combat crime, improve resilience during natural disasters and reduce greenhouse emissions.

Without the proper governance, these technologies pose significant risk, notably to privacy and security. To ensure data collected in public places is used safely and ethically, the Alliance will develop, pilot collectively implement new global policy standards.

“Our cities stand at a crossroads. Rapid urbanization – if not effectively managed – threatens to paralyse local economies and undermine recent advances in the quality of life,” said Jeff Merritt, Head of IoT, Robotics and Smart Cities at the World Economic Forum.

“Smart city technologies offer huge promise, but they can be a Pandora’s box.

“Today’s announcement is a critical first step to accelerate global best practices, mitigate risks, and foster greater openness and public trust regarding the collection of data in public spaces.”

The concept of smart cities will form a key part of Port Technology International’s Smart Digital Ports of the Future Conference (SDP19) in Rotterdam, which will be held between 4-6 November 2019.  

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