31 August 2012

Global City Indicators Facility

By Renard Teipelke
Original and credits

“The Global City Indicators Facility provides an established set of city indicators with a globally standardized methodology that allows for global comparability of city performance and knowledge sharing.”
This web-based relational database website, Global City Indicators Facility (GCIF), is based at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape & Design of the University of Toronto in Canada and has on its executive committees both officials (partly elected politicians) from cities of various size and region and representatives from international organizations such as UN-Habitat or ICLEI.
The indicator themes are organized in two main categories:
  • City services: education, finance, recreation, governance, energy, transportation, wastewater, fire and emergency response, health, safety, solid waste, urban planning, water.
  • Quality of life: civic engagement, economy, shelter, culture, environment, social equity, technology and innovation
Under these themes a total of 115 indicators are listed, differentiated into basic provision indicatorssupporting indicators, and profileindicators. The GCIF describes the development of its indicators as a “rigorous screening process”, demands a regular reporting by participating member cities, and underscores a specific set of criteria for the indicators. Amongst these criteria are important aspects such as the cost effectiveness of collecting the necessary data and a limited complexity of the indicators. It might sound as a weakness of the indicators, but city practitioners may well support the fact that it can pose particular barriers to local governments and administrations to work with data sets and lists of performance criteria if they are hard to understand or difficult to assess. This becomes especially relevant in cities in developing countries where local administrations are rather poorly equipped, but also in cities of industrialized nations in the current economic and financial crisis where budgets are recklessly cut back.
In contrast to the indicator development by international organizations or research institutions that may not seek the input of the parties concerned, the GCIF discusses current indicators and prospective ones with member cities in order to address their needs (concerning the performance comparability) and interests (concerning the knowledge sharing).
Global City Indicators Facility Member Cities