SDG Cities Leadership Platform

City Diagnostic & SDG Action Plan

Interest in Smart Sustainable Cities has triggered plenty of theoretical and technology-led discussions, but not enough progress has been made in implementing related initiatives. In addition, there are several factors hindering adoption of Smart Sustainable City solutions: scaling of newer technologies is unproven; technology challenges the existing status quo in how cities are run; and technology is not well-understood across city sectors.

Cities need to assess their requirements and set up an integrated approach for all new projects that encompasses environmental, social, and economic aspects. Generally, many cities lack the resources and the money to fund detailed plans with expensive management consultants.

Nonetheless most cities need comprehensive reports which not only review technical considerations but also provide detailed business model options and funding parameters.

See across for an example of smart city consulting plans where both technical options and business model options are covered in detail.

To bridge the gap between ideas and reality, the SDG Cities program will provide a range of deliverables which will help cities to better plan and implement their own strategies to better reach the UN SDG’s.

The City Diagnostic Management System will help to provide a blueprint of Programs & Projects for each City which will be analysed by way of an SDG Action-Plan which provides a comprehensive assessment and solution including business models.

It is again important to emphasise that the resources to deliver the CDMS and the SDG Action-Plan will reside within each local CIP.

The “SDG City Innovation Platform (CIP) – Functional Process” or CIP Process for this is in 5 stages which entails the following:

  1. City Diagnostic
  2. City Profile
  3. City Roadmap
  4. SDG Action-Plan
  5. Implement & Monitor


As you can see the 5 stages which comprise the functional process for the CIP are broken into 2 main phases which cover the City Diagnostic and the SDG Action-Plan phases.

The City Diagnostic is very much a data driven modelling and analysis phase whereas the SDG Action-Plan drives the assessment of programs and projects.

1. City Diagnostic

As detailed earlier in this report the SDG Diagnostic and Management System is a dynamic simulation system which studies a series of actions, technologies, measures and policies from various domains at different time periods and implementation rates. It is designed to reduce the environmental impact of everyday activities and to improve the quality of life of citizens.

Above all, the CDMS provides a baseline or starting point for a city assessment and before a city can become smarter and initiate changes they need to understand exactly where they stand in relation to other cities so they can establish a starting point against all 17 SDG’s. The CDMS analysis is provided by the expert CIP City team in consultation with the City.

The CIP Process for the City Diagnostic will be as follows:

1. Initial City Data & Target Review

As most cities have varying types, quantity and quality of city data there will need to be a review process to identify data which is needed and or missing for the modelling. In addition, the city needs to provide its targets and goals.

2. City Diagnostic Modelling & Assessment for all 17 SDGs

The main aim of the City Diagnostic is to use both city data and environmental data to gain an understanding of the starting point for any city based on its goals and targets.

3. Calculate Environmental Baseline

The CDMS will establish an environmental baseline for a city to move forward from based on the provided data. It is clear that before a city can plan and evaluate new projects they need to establish a project baseline requires substantial resources and a step-by-step approach with the City Profile being the starting point of the IAP.

2. City Profile

The City Profile provides the analytical outcome of the CDMS with detailed gap analysis and the beginnings of potential projects for a city to explore.

This stage includes detailed input from the expert CIP team, the City as well as other stakeholders.

A detailed City Profile is required as an important step for understanding the cities current position and how it will pinpoint the crucial factors to take into account when preparing a roadmap and how to integrate this within an SDG Action-Plan and the inherent process within it.

Having established a baseline via the City Profile study, the city has an understanding of where it is relevant to other cities. Following on from that the city has considered multiple issues and undertaken to define some visions which lead to programs, policies and projects.

The City Profile will take into such areas as:

• Infrastructure Construction

• Urban Mobility

• Renewable Energy

• Information & Communication Technologies

• Urban Development Services, Safety & Security

• Recycling & Waste Management

• Health Infrastructure



And in a separate process the perception of this profile by its citizens and by the people outside: the city, the region, the nation, the continent and how the media contribute to the accurate framing.


The process here is as follows:

1. Review CDMS results against the UN USC KPI’s

Having identified the baseline the city needs to compare its baseline against other cities by using benchmark data. Here we plan help the city identify its position with respect to other examples/cases of smart cities. There is a bewildering array of city indicators and it is imperative to understand why they are relevant and what the methodology is that lies behind them. In many instances cities simply use them as a form of advertising / PR if they happen to rank highly in them.

2. Update GAP analysis and Diagnostic results

Having compared the KPI data with the CDMS data we can run more detailed GAP analysis to compare the results of the city across other cities.

3. Infrastructure & Technology Impacts & Strategy

The CDMS model has at this stage now calculated infrastructure technology impacts and starts to form the basis of information to assemble initial strategies.

3. City Roadmap

Cities face the challenge of simultaneously combining competitiveness and sustainable urban development. Cities governance is complex. The capacity to govern is about implementing the decisions made through the decision-making process: who is implementing, for whom, and under which conditions? Political conflicts linked to a wide variety of actors and approaches bring to the fore the role of mayors and elected officials as referees in the public realm.

This requires the building of a strategic and long-term vision for the city, the foreseeing of financing, the planning, the cooperation of multiple actors, while taking into account the local/regional/national environment. This vision then is translated into policies, programs and projects which ultimately require being implemented following the creation of an Action-Plan.

Thus, the City Roadmap will encompass the following:

  1. Understand key City Policies
  2. Establish initial City Programs
  3. Establish initial City Projects
  4. SDG Programme & Project Selection Considerations
  5. High Level Technical roadmap for all programs and projects

The City Roadmap then provides a Plan for the City of the most ideal programmes and projects which will enable it to achieve its SD Goals. To select and turn a suggested project into something tangible requires a clearly defined plan and this section identifies the necessary steps for selecting and integrating technology solutions into an SDG Action-Plan.


Of course, the City Roadmap may take place over a number of years and will likely have many different programs and projects often competing for priorities and funding.


  1. Understand key City Policies

Having established a City Profile from the CDMS, which provides the environmental baseline and benchmarking the City needs to establish a clear list of its key Policies which will allow the establishment of a list of Programs and Projects which are based upon these City Policies.

  1. Establish initial City Programs

A key group of Programs is the outcome of both an examination of the City’s key Policies but of course the outcome of the CDMS and the KPI Evaluation and benchmarking. This allows a focus on the key areas within the city that need to be worked upon. For example, the CDMS may identify a number of key gaps in rail transportation. Now if improved mobility is a key policy of the City then the logic follows that a “Rail Transport” program is created which contains individual rail projects such as increased integration with the bus network

  1. Establish initial City Projects

Each City program will then have a number of projects identified as part of the CDMS process under Section 2 the City Profile.

  1. SDG Programme & Project Selection Considerations

The list created above will now be examined here in more detail having tested their validity against both key Policies and Program creation. Priority and initial “blue sky” funding issues will be taken into account here in order to document timelines in particular.

  1. High Level Technical roadmap for all programs and projects

The list of projects from the above process will now be able to be put into an order for deeper examination as part of the formulation of SDG Action-Plans.


4. SDG Action-Plan

Every project detailed in the City Roadmap requires a sound Action Plan which will generally include a business model, governance model as well as a financial viability overview.

Every project identified and reviewed as part of the City Roadmap will be provided with expert advice in respect of:

  1. Business & Governance model & Funding options
  2. SDG Value Case & Citizen Engagement Plan
  3. Industry Partnership structuring & Ecosystem creation
  4. Project & Investment Platform Identification & Co-ordination

As mentioned earlier, to close the knowledge GAP every City needs external expertise to assist it to do the “heavy lifting” when both identifying and evaluating proposals. In many cities with larger budgets they can often have access to and indeed the budget to hire external management and business consultants to prepare reports; but many cities simply don’t have this budgetary capacity let alone the specialist skills needed to evaluate complex and new initiatives. This is why having an Action-Plan prepared and carried out by the SDG Cities program is so beneficial and crucial.

1. Business & Governance model & Funding options

In particular, a good business model for a smart city project requires detailed feasibility analysis together with a number of options in order for a City to make a sound business decision. There are a variety of business / funding models available to cities from fully funded, joint ventures to public private partnerships (PPP) and other models. All of these models will be provided as options as part of the business model process.

2. SDG Value Case & Citizen Engagement Plan

In addition to clarifying the business case for a smart city project there is of course the impact on the SDGs involved and of course the social and or citizen impact. Clear understanding of these impacts is crucial in order to move the project forward.

3. Industry Partnership structuring & Ecosystem creation

Part of a sound business model includes governance and financial structure and this is where having a detailed understanding of the eco-systems in smart city initiatives is so vital. There are so many options to putting together a smart city project which include multiple types of partnerships and having a range of options allows sound decision making especially when considering the interests of a variety of stakeholders.

4. Project & Investment Platform Identification & Co-ordination

The Solved investment platform plays a significant role her in assisting the matching of projects to partners and the entire creation of a consortium or indeed an eco-system necessary to pull the project together and implement it.

It is important in any project initiative to consider the roles and functions of all the stakeholders who will either finance, operate, enable or be affected by a particular initiative. No matter whether the project is fully funded or a PPP it is important to consider the impact upon various stakeholders and the roles which they will play in a project.

Stakeholders to be considered in a full business and governance plan include (but not limited to):

  • Federal government
  • UN / NGO’s
  • Regional government
  • Local / City government
  • Regulators
  • Developers - of assets
  • Owners - of assets
  • Operators - of assets
  • Vendors - who provide the solutions
  • Organisations
  • Users / Public   


5. Implement & Monitor

The CIP will also provide the resources and people required to help SDG Cities to implement the projects and programmes identified in the Action-Plan. This stage will require the full expertise and resources of the CIP team to deliver the following for the SDG City:


  • Roadmap of Programmes & Projects
  • Governance & Delivery Plan
  • Operation Plan
  • Monitoring & Measurement Plan

In addition, this stage will also encompass the CDMS as the means to monitor the implemented project.

The function of the CIP team will be to facilitate the development of selected projects via sound project management, analysis, and financing expertise to develop a strategic approach to the implementation of City Action-Plan.

Working closely with the SOLVED USC Marketplace will be a key function of the Implementation stage of the SDG Action-Plan.


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