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Boston becomes first U.S. city to join World Council on City Data

August 25, 2014

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

 Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today that the City of Boston has joined a recently formed global consortium working to develop international standards for a host of city indicators. Boston is the first city in the United States to become a Foundation Partner in the World Council on City Data (WCCD), joining a select group that includes Amman, Barcelona, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Guadalajara, Haiphong, Helsinki, Johannesburg, London, Makati, Makkah, Melbourne, Minna, Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, and Toronto.

The WCCD, which launched at the Global Cities Summit in May, coordinates efforts across cities to ensure a consistent and comprehensive platform for standardized urban metrics. The council serves as a global hub for learning partnership between cities, international organizations, corporate partners, and academic institutions working to build better and more livable cities. The group aims to build an open data platform on global city metrics, allowing cities to showcase their progress on the world stage.

“We welcome the opportunity to contribute to this influential partnership that is helping to shape how cities across the globe use and share data,” Mayor Walsh said. “We rely on good data to inform a lot of what we do in city government, and the chance to share best practices with such a diverse group of international cities is very exciting.”

“We are honored to have Boston as one of the Foundation Cities of the WCCD,” said Professor Patricia McCarney, President and CEO of the World Council on City Data.  “Boston will be one of the first cities to be certified under ISO 37120, the first international standard for cities, confirming Boston’s dedication to open city data and sustainable development in partnership with other leading cities around the world.”

The Research Division of the Boston Redevelopment Authority will lead and manage Boston’s participation in the World Council on City Data.

The creation of the WCCD stems from seven years of successful work to develop a globally standardized data platform for cities, leading to the very first standard on city metrics, published as ISO 37120 in May by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization.

If shared and used widely, standardized city indicators have the potential to be highly beneficial to policymakers and urban officials. They can help inform more effective ways of governing and delivering city services, as cities worldwide will be able to use the indicators as benchmarks for planning and decision making. Standardized city metrics will also help to promote transparency and collaboration between governments, the public, and other economic sectors.

Foundation Partners will help develop the vision and mandate for the WCCD. The distinguished cities in this group have committed to compiling at least 46 core indicators according to ISO 37120 standardized definitions and methodologies. These indicators focus on the economy, education, energy and the environment, finance, emergency response, governance, and more. Core city indicators might include unemployment rate, percentage of students completing secondary education, and average life expectancy, to name a few examples.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority’s Research Division will compile the required indicators on the City of Boston and submit them to the World Council on City Data by the end of August, when all Foundation Partners are required to submit their data. After the WCCD reviews the data to ensure that each city complied with the agreed upon