What is Un​ited for ​​Smart Sustainable Cities?​​​​

United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC) is a United Nations initiative coordinated by ITU, UNECE and UN-Habitat, and supported by CBD, ECLAC, FAO, UNDP, UNECA, UNESCO, UNEP, UNEP-FI, UNFCCC, UNIDO, UNOP, UNU-EGOV, UN-Women, UNWTO and WMO to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11: “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

U4SSC serves as the global platform to advocate for public policy and encourage ICT use to facilitate smart sustainable cities.

Please see the U4SSC Brochure for more information on the initiative.​

Who is U4SSC aimed at?​

​​U4SSC is aimed at cities, towns, municipalities and communities (commonly referred collectively to as ‘cities’).

How can I get involved with U4SSC’s work?

You can get involved in U4SSC’s work by:​

  • ​participating in U4SSC Thematic Groups and their Working Groups;
  • featuring your smart city project in the U4SSC Implementation Programme (U4SSC-IP) and U4SSC Hub; and
  • promoting U4SSC to cities as a city representative, policy maker, smart city consultant, solution provider, etc.​
Is there a cost to join U4SSC? 

No. There is no cost to join the U4SSC. 

How can I learn about your upcoming events?

​Please subscribe to the U4SSC mailing list. ​Please see step by step instruction on how to subscribe. 


​​​​Is there a cost to join the U4SSC project?

When the city participates in the U4SSC KPIs project, an independent third-party verifier audits its reported data. Please contact the U4SSC Secretariat at u4ssc@itu.int to receive the latest price list for these verification services.
For more information on verification, please refer to the Verification Process.

How can my city join the U4SSC project?

To join U4SSC, your city is requested to forward a letter from the Mayor to formally convey your city’s interest in joining the U4SSC initiative. You can find the template for the letter under Annex 2 of the U4SSC KPIs Concept Note​.

Upon receipt of the letter of interest, the U4SSC Secretariat will forward a letter of acceptance of your city into the U4SSC initiative. It will be in touch to discuss subsequent steps, including the designation of the city’s focal point for the U4SSC KPIs project and the costs associated with verification of the city’s KPIs data.

​What is the U4SSC KPIs project?

When cities join U4SSC, they implement the initiative’s flagship U4SSC Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) project.

The U4SSC KPIs is a set of close to 100 standardized indicators that provide cities with the means for self-assessment and monitoring of their smart and sustainable development progress to achieve the SDGs. They are contained in the “Collection Methodology for Key Performance Indicators for Smart Sustainable Cities​“.

You can fund more information on the U4SSC KPIs project in this Concept Note and this Presentation​.

Is the U4SSC KPIs project open to countries and regions too?

​Countries and regions can participate in the U4SSC KPIs project by implementing the KPIs across their cities and aggregating the data to report smartness and sustainability progress at the national or regional level. 

What steps or phases does the U4SSC KPIs project contain?

The main phases of the KPIs project after a city formally signs on to U4SSC are:
1.       Data collection
2.       Data reporting
3.       Data verification
For more information on verification, please refer to the Verification Process.

What kind of resources would my city need for the U4SSC KPIs project?

​Your city’s number and mix of resources dedicated to its U4SSC KPIs project would depend on its circumstances and abilities.

In our experience with cities, it is vital to have a project focal point who plans and reports internally on the U4SSC KPIs project in the city – and oversees the data collection, coordination and external reporting effort (i.e., to the U4SSC).

Depending on their situation and personnel workload, cities also usually add one or two additional personnel – typically analysts or coordinators working full-time or part-time on the U4SSC KPIs project.

In terms of skill set, we have found that many city professionals can help execute the project. Experience in research or working with data and knowledge of the city’s organizational structure, databases and reporting outputs, and domain or subject matter experts in various departments tends to be helpful.

What department should lead the U4SSC KPIs project in my city?

The exact function or department responsible for the U4SSC KPIs project in your city would, again, depend on its unique situation. In some cities, their technology departments/organizations have led the U4SSC KPIs project. In others, dedicated smart city divisions have carried out the project.

Should my city report its U4SSC KPIs and undergo verification every year?

While it is up to each city to determine whether it wants to report its U4SSC KPIs every year, U4SSC does recommend doing so. There are benefits for a city to report every year.

Annual reporting can help the city track the progress of its smartness and sustainability investment year-over-year. Once there is data available for enough years, it can be used to perform trend analysis and other useful analytics.

Also, after their first year of reporting, cities find subsequent years even easier to report.

For more information on verification, please refer to the Verification Process.​

Are both verification options: onsite and remote, still available during the global pandemic?

​Until further notice, all verifications will be conducted remotely due to travel and quarantine restrictions resulting from the ongoing pandemic.

For more information on verification, please refer to the Verification Process.

​Is there any mandatory or recommended frequency for updating my city’s U4SSC KPIs?

There is no mandatory frequency for updating the U4SSC KPIs, although U4SSC recommends that any latest available data be collected and used by a city in each reporting year.

Will any further guidance be provided to my city for data collection and reporting, in addition to the information found in the U4SSC KPIs Collection Methodology?

​More details and guidance on data collection and reporting can be found in the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet shared with the city once its U4SSC KPIs project commences. Further guidance will be provided to the city as needed by the U4SSC Secretariat and the verifier.​

How will my city share its data and supporting files with the verifier for the U4SSC KPIs project?

​The verifier can receive and exchange files with your city during the data collection, data reporting and data verification phases using any platform. Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft Teams are all good options among many that are available. 

How will meetings take place with the verifier?

​Online meetings can be held using any tool that your city prefers. Your city and the verifier can use Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, etc., for this purpose.

For more information on verification, please refer to the Verification Process.

​What format should my city’s supporting files be? Can my city provide links to the source documentation?

​Where a link to the data source can be accessed publicly, your city is welcome to include that link in the data reporting MS Excel spreadsheet. Your city can also download the source document as a PDF or MS Excel file and share it with the verifier. If the source document exists in paper form only, your city can share a scanned copy (PDF or image) with the verifier.

For more information on verification, please refer to the Verification Process​.

​What reports does ITU offer to cities implementing the U4SSC KPIs?

The complement of ITU reports based on the successful completion of the U4SSC KPIs project in a city include the:

  • ​City Snapshot,
  • Verification Report,
  • optional Factsheet, and
  • optional Case Study. 

These reports benchmark and progressively elaborate the U4SSC KPIs’ implementation findings – providing practical analysis, important lessons learned, actionable recommendations, and other critical insights for the city’s future smartness and sustainability.

These reports also demonstrate the city’s ongoing development and progress as a U4SSC smart sustainable city, thereby proving to be a vital tool to market and promote its efforts nationally and internationally.

You can find each of these reports published for several U4SSC participant smart sustainable cities here.​

On the webpage, the number of reports published for each city varies. Why is this?

The difference in the number of reports published for cities is due to two reasons.

The first is that some cities may choose not to make a particular report, e.g., the Verification Report, public. They may use it for internal purposes only. ITU and U4SSC honour any such request made by a city. It does not impact the city’s successful completion of the U4SSC KPIs project, not its status as a U4SSC smart sustainable city.

Secondly, while the development of the City Snapshot and Verification Report is included as part of the verification service fee for every participating city, the Factsheet and Case Study are optional and are developed at additional cost. Some cities may not be able to avail of these two optional reports. However, ITU and U4SSC encourage developing the Factsheet or Case Study to all cities because of the value these two reports provide to cities.

​Why are the Factsheet and Case Study optional for cities? Can my city commission both of these optional reports?

The optional Factsheet and the optional Case Study go beyond the benchmarking and initial analysis provided in the City Snapshot and Verification Report. 

If your city is interested, it can choose either one of these two optional reports. Of the two, the Case Study provides the highest level of detail.

​How will implementing the U4SSC KPIs and receiving these reports showcase my city’s excellence in smartness and sustainability?

​A great way to illustrate the degree and success of smartness and sustainability in your city is through the series of U4SSC city reports mentioned above. The City Snapshot and Verification Report will provide the initial overview of the city’s efficacy and ability in these areas. The Factsheet will provide further analysis and narrative of the city’s success. But the Case Study will provide the most in-depth demonstration and validation of the city’s capability, accomplishment and expertise as a U4SSC smart sustainable city, i.e., its excellence.

ITU and U4SSC will also highlight the city’s excellence in key areas of smartness and sustainability further through press releases, articles, presentations, and future coverage of the city in various publications on these topics.

My city has successfully signed onto the U4SSC initiative, collected its available data and reviewed it internally. What are the next steps to implement the U4SSC KPIs in my city? 

The next steps for your city are as follows:

  • ​​Your city will submit its data to ITU, which will forward it to an independent third-party verifier for review and verification.
  • The verifier will contact your city to seek clarification of any data and sources or advise whether any further supporting documentation needs to be submitted to meet the U4SSC KPIs Collection Methodology (i.e. the U4SSC KPIs standard).
  • Once your city’s KPIs have successfully passed verification, a U4SSC City Snapshot and Verification Report will be prepared for your city, in addition to any optional report (Factsheet or Case Study) that your city chose at the outset of its U4SSC KPIs project.​

For more information on verification, please refer to the Verification Process.

What are some of the key success criteria when implementing the U4SSC KPIs project?

It is essential to have backing from the top political leadership in your city. Such support is the key to getting city departments to allocate time to collect and report data.
It is also vital to have liaisons with other agencies and entities providing services to the city (e.g., mobile communications, water, waste, etc.). They will have the data needed to report the U4SSC KPIs.