Standard for Cities


A landmark ISO standard outlining key measurements for evaluating a city’s service delivery and quality of life has been published as ISO 37120:2014, “Sustainable development of communities – Indicators for city services and quality of life”.

Its use will help city managers, politicians, researchers, business leaders, planners, designers, and other professionals to focus on key issues, and put in place policies for more livable, tolerant, sustainable, resilient, economically attractive, and prosperous cities.

Why do we need city indicators?

Currently, 53 % of the world’s population resides in cities, a figure that according to ISO is expected to rise to 70 % by 2050. Cities are cultural and economic centers which today generate 70 % of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Investing in them may be a priority for many governments, but doing so sustainably and effectively can be a challenge, and this where ISO 37120 can help.

The indicators included in ISO 37120 will help cities to assess their performance and measure progress over time, with the ultimate goal of improving quality of life and sustainability. The standard’s uniform approach will enable cities to seamlessly compare where they stand in relation to other cities. This information can in turn be used to identify best practice and learn from one another.

Areas covered by ISO 37120

  • Economy
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Environment
  • Finance
  • Fire and emergency response
  • Governance
  • Health
  • Recreation
  • Safety
  • Shelter
  • Solid waste
  • Telecommunications and innovation
  • Transportation
  • Urban planning
  • Wastewater
  • Water and sanitation

Is it for my City?

ISO 37120 can be used by any city, municipality, or local government wishing to measure its performance in a comparable and verifiable manner, irrespective of its size, location, or level of development.

First of its kind

ISO 37120 is the first ISO standard for city indicators. It is being developed as part of an integrated suite of standards for sustainable development in communities. The standard was launched in May during a global cities summit organized by the Global City Indicators Facility, one of the organizations involved in its development.

Benefits of ISO 37120

  • More effective governance and delivery of services
  • International benchmarks and targets
  • Local benchmarking and planning
  • Informed decision making for policy makers and city managers
  • Learning across cities
  • Leverage for funding and recognition in international entities
  • Leverage for funding by cities with senior levels of government
  • Framework for sustainability planning
  • Transparency and open data for investment attractiveness
  • Comparable data for city decision making, insight and global benchmarking