Can Data Standards Improve Our Common Lives?

Good decision making depends on good information. Municipal leaders need a reliable way to evaluate progress on goals and aspirations for their communities. The International Organization for Standardization is introducing a new data standard, ISO 37120:2014, to help municipalities measure standards ranging from firefighting capacity to public transit to water quality. But before decision-makers adopt this new data standard, they need know how well it frames sustainability and quality of life.

In an article published in Municipal World, Milton Friesen, Cardus' Director of Social Cities, identifies key questions that can help evaluate the merits and limits of ISO 37120. At the centre of these questions is an understanding that assumptions and values are built into all measures, and that safeguards are needed to account for the unique nature of Canada's cities.