If your city has been feeling more crowded lately, it’s probably not just your imagination. Today, the majority of our population lives in cities, and this trend is continuing to grow.
All over the world, we are struggling to find information to guide city policies and management in the face of their rapid growth. Most of our statistical data is gathered on a national level, which means that information on a local level is lacking.
Patricia McCarney, Director of the Global Cities Institute and professor at the University of Toronto, is working to change that by creating international standards that will standardize the way that cities report their data.
“Data should drive change, it should drive improvements in the cities. It should lead to better living,” says McCarney.
Without standardized reporting, it is impossible to compare apples to apples. Each city might use different names or categories for the same services, or they might calculate their numbers in different ways.
McCarney’s Global Cities Indicators Facility (GCIF) provides the framework for standard reporting, allowing cities to learn from one another through direct comparison.
“What are we doing wrong? How can we learn? How can we improve our city to have better safety, better emergency response?” says McCarney.
“If you are travelling to Amman, Jordan next week, you can actually log on and see what’s the status – what’s the homicide rate, what’s the quality of life around city services. If you are moving to the city, you can look into the level of education quality. So we have student-teacher ratio, we have higher ed degrees. If you are thinking of setting up a company, you can see the level of academic training skills, safety, health.”
These data will enable cities to understand better understand their demographics, identify local needs and gaps, and build improved services for citizens.