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Major G20 alliance seeks to establish global standards for smart city tech

Fifteen smart city networks and tech governance groups, representing 200,000 public and private sector organisations in the smart cities space, have joined together to establish global policy standards for the use of connected devices in public spaces. 

Their objective, they said, is to ensure cities do not open a “Pandora’s box” of technologies with their technological advancement, but instead retain charge of data and security, and empower city governments and businesses to enable more efficient, profitable, and sustainable cities.

The new grouping, the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance, has committed to co-design and roll out a global policy framework on smart city technologies in advance of the 2020 G20 Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Jeff Merritt, head of IoT, robotics and smart cities at the World Economic Forum, said: “Rapid urbanisation – if not effectively managed – threatens to paralyse local economies and undermine recent advances in the quality of life. Smart city technologies offer huge promise, but they can be a Pandora’s box. Today’s announcement is a first step to accelerate global best practices, mitigate risks, and foster greater openness and public trust regarding the collection of data in public spaces.”

Established back in June, in conjunction with the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, the alliance is the “largest and most ambitious” alliance of its kind, according to the World Economic Forum, the group’s secretariat, announcing its mission last week. 

Its members, including municipal, regional and national governments, as well as private companies, research institutions, and civil organisations will develop, pilot and implement new global policy standards, said the World Economic Forum.

Koichi Akaishi, vice minister for science, technology, and innovation for the Japanese government, said: “The advancement of smart cities and communities is critical to realising Japan’s vision for Society 5.0. It is also essential to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, including climate change and inclusive economic growth.”

Chizuru Suga, head of the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, commented: “It [is] difficult for cities to face the challenges of these technologies to balance economic development and innovation with the protection of the public, alone. We will commit to supporting these cities, through international cooperation and technology governance.”

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