Led by the World Economic Forum, the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance is the largest global initiative of its kind, with its 16 founding partners representing more than 200,000 cities and local governments, companies, start-ups, research institutions and non-profit organizations. Together, they will create, test and implement global norms and policy standards to help ensure that data collected in public places is used safely and ethically.
What's the challenge?
Every week about three million people around the world move to the city. To support their booming urban populations, many cities have come to rely on the internet of things (IoT)—that is, the world’s ever-expanding network of connected devices—to collect, share and analyse real-time data on urban environments. The data gathered using IoT technologies is helping these “smart cities” to combat crime, reduce pollution, decrease traffic congestion, improve disaster preparedness and more. However, it is also raising growing concerns about privacy, security and other risks.
Without proper governance, these smart city technologies pose significant challenges that can outweigh their benefits. But despite the growing number of smart cities around the world, no global framework exists for regulating how data should be collected in public spaces (such as by traffic cameras or Wi-Fi hotspots) and subsequently used.
Fortunately, that will all soon change.
To start building the necessary global framework, world leaders at the 2019 G20 Summit in Osaka announced the launch of an unprecedented global alliance that will unite existing entities working in the smart city space. As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum was selected to be the secretariat of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance.
"Cities are the solution-makers and testbeds of the future. Our ability to [move] forward technological advancements and smart city solutions is directly related to the responsible and ethical use of data and technology. Only by creating a joint trust-based framework can we realize the full potential of smart city technologies for the benefit of all mankind in the future."
Officially launched in October 2019, the Global Smart Cities Alliance will establish global standards for data collection and use, foster greater transparency and public trust, and promote best practices in smart city governance. Working together with municipal, regional and national governments, as well as with private-sector partners and city residents, the alliance will co-design, pilot and scale up innovative policy solutions to help cities responsibly implement IoT technologies.
The Global Smart Cities Alliance has already committed to co-designing and releasing a first-of-its-kind global policy framework on smart city technologies ahead of the 2020 G20 Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. To begin this process, the first policy design workshops with city leaders were held in November 2019 in conjunction with the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
The founding partners of the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance include: the host nations of the 2019 and 2020 G20 Summits, Japan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; the Smart Cities Mission of India; Cities for All; Cities Today Institute; Commonwealth Local Government Forum; Commonwealth Sustainable Cities Network; Connected Places Catapult; Digital Future Society; ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability; International Telecommunication Union; National League of Cities; Open and Agile Smart Cities; Smart City Expo World Congress; United Cities and Local Governments; What Works Cities; World Economic Forum; and World Enabled.