NIST Holistic Key Performance Indicators Framework Expands Evaluation Criteria For Smart Cities

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – working with National University of Ireland Galway – has released a measurement framework to help city managers and other stakeholders involved in planning and community development assess the impacts of smart city technologies. 

The Holistic Key Performance Indicators (H-KPI) Framework expands the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) approach commonly used as a metric to evaluate smart cities and communities. It has been developed to provide the basis for developing measurement methods and tools that allow for integration, adaptability, and extensibility at three interacting levels of analysis: technologies, infrastructure services, and community benefits. Applications of the H-KPI methodology include strategic planning, systems design and assurance, and operations management. 

The H-KPI Framework proposed in the paper relies on five metrics:

  • Alignment of KPIs with community priorities across districts and neighborhoods;
  • investment alignment with community priorities;
  •  investment efficiency;
  •  information flow density; and
  • quality of infrastructure services and community benefits.

According to the authors, the KPI approach is considered to be limited by its technology- or sector-specific focus and also its inability to measure benefits essential to assessing community impact and return on investment. The H-KPI approach is a bid to counter those limitations by accounting for “unique characteristics such as varying districts and neighborhoods, differences in population and economic scale, the reuse of previously deployed technologies, and other factors relevant to a city or community.” 

“Without reliable measurement methods for ‘smart,’ there is a gap in the ability to answer questions such as ‘how smart is my smart city plan,’ or ‘how can my smart community strategy be made smarter?’” the authors wrote.

The paper defines the use of “smart” in “smart cities” as the efficient use of digital technologies to provide prioritized services and benefits to meet community goals, such as economic vitality, equity, resilience, sustainability, or quality of life.