Aalter is the first Belgian town to be awarded the ISO 37120 certificate's prestigious platinum status. The certificate assesses 100 different municipal indicators in 17 different subject areas to map a city's liveability.  Thanks to this standard, Aalter can benchmark itself internationally in matters of the sustainable development of services and quality of life.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has defined indicators that describe the quality of city services and liveability. All data is gathered in standardised form, enabling lessons to be learned from different cities' approaches to sustainable development.

The World Council on City Data (WCCD) is worldleader in the field of standardised city data. The WCCD coordinates all efforts in the area of open data for cities and offers a platform for standardised city data. Aalter will now also have a place on the WCCD's open data platform. 

Belgium joins international cities

Cities like London, Barcelona, Dubai, Melbourne, Boston,… have long been on the list of certified cities, but comparable towns in The Netherlands also feature Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Heerlen. A year ago the WCCD and TomorrowLab decided to work together to help certify Belgian cities and to help put them on the ambitious smart city map.

Professor Patricia L. McCarney, President & CEO of the World Council on City Data says: "Cities appear regularly in performance indices. But what data are they based on? That's often the question. Everybody uses their own metrics and the data used by the people who draw up the indices are not necessarily shared. And because you don't get clear feedback about your scores – after all, you don't know how something is arrived at – you can't do much with the results. Before you know it you're comparing apples with pears. The ISO standard offers a solution here".

Smart City isn't just about technology, it's also about taking the right decisions on the basis of data. 

Aalter achieved the ISO 9001 certificate for the standardisation of its processes 14 years ago. Today Aalter is taking a leading role in Belgium with the ISO37120 certificate. Mayor Pieter De Crem is a great advocate of this kind of transparency. "In a way, we make ourselves vulnerable because 100 indicators provide a complete audit of the town. On the other hand, precisely because of that it also offers important insights, since we can compare ourselves objectively with other cities. We can then link them to the right policy choices".

Screenshot of the Open Data Platform, comparing Aalter with other ISO37120 certified cities

Remarkable results

The data shows that Aalter meets 36,65% of its energy need with renewable energy. Compared to Eindhoven (3,3%) and others this is a great result. The average energy use of households in Aalter is slightly higher than the ciies in the Netherlands (0,13 tons / capitavs. 0,5 tons / capita in Eindhoven or Heerlen).

With 81,33% of the garbage in Aalter being recycled and 90 liters of water used per capita Aalter is on the right track with regards to sustainability. Working points include CO2 emissions (Aalter has a lot of industry compared to the total population). The response time of emergency services is also higher (13,48min) than in Heerlen (9,62 min) and Eindhoven (6,7 min). Issues where smart city technology might be able to help improve the results.

"Smart City isn't just about technology, it's also about taking the right decisions on the basis of data. Where are there improvement opportunities for the city's clients? ISO can help to make these decisions objective," explains Joachim De Vos, Managing Director of the strategic innovation consultancy firm TomorrowLab.

Obtaining the ISO certificate is part of the brief for TomorrowLab, which is supporting Aalter as it evolves into a Smart City.


Mayor Pieter De Crem receives the ISO37120 certificate from Herman Van Rompuy and Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of Energy Union.