Comparative analysis of standardized indicators for Smart sustainable cities: What indicators and standards to use and when?

Aapo Huovila, Peter Bosch, Miimu Airaksinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

218 Citations (Scopus)


City managers need indicators for target setting, performance assessment, monitoring, management and decision-making purposes. The choice of the most suitable indicator framework is crucial, but difficult, as it requires expert knowledge. To help cities in their choice, this paper compares seven recently published indicator standards for Smart sustainable cities. A taxonomy was developed to evaluate each of their 413 indicators against five conceptual urban focuses (types of urban sustainability and smartness), ten sectoral application domains (energy, transport, ICT, economy, etc.) and five indicator types (input, process, output, outcome, impact). The results clearly discriminate between indicator standards suited for evaluating the implementation of predominantly smart city approaches versus standards more focused on sustainability assessment. A further distinction is possible in standards almost fully oriented towards impacts reached, and standards that allow for progress evaluation according to steps in the implementation process. Some standards provide a narrow focus on output indicators evaluating the progress in implementing smart urban ICT solutions (e.g. number of smart meters installed). Cities are encouraged to complement such evaluations with impact indicators that demonstrate the effects of those solutions. This paper provides guidance for city managers and policy makers to select the indicators and standard that best correspond to their assessment need and goals, and align with their stage in Smart sustainable city implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-153
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Urban indicator
  • Smart sustainable cities
  • Standardization
  • Monitoring
  • Decision making
  • Sustainable Development Goals


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