SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Why it matters

SDG 11 strives to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Nevertheless, the global pandemic has brought about significant changes in migration patterns, resulting in substantial population movements both in and out of urban areas. Additionally, cities are facing disproportionate impacts from climate change and conflicts. These combined factors highlight the considerable challenges in attaining the objective of sustainable cities.

The industry’s contribution

Mobile technology contributes to SDG 11 by improving quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness while ensuring smart cities meet the environmental and social needs of current and future generations. Cities both large and small are embracing this view, driven by government policy and pressure from citizens.[50]

For example, mobile operators and their partners are developing intelligent transport system solutions that optimise traffic and reduce CO2 emissions (such as the public-private partnership between the City of Sacramento and Verizon). Over the past few years, there has also been a significant improvement in the availability of affordable air-quality monitoring devices for commercial use. This has enabled large-scale deployments at a reasonable cost, thereby helping public administrations to manage and evaluate the quality of the air.

The mobile industry also contributes to SDG 11 by reducing the number of deaths and number of people affected by disasters. As well as enabling communications and access to information, mobile networks can support drones at emergency response sites that assess damage in the aftermath of sudden onset events. For example, aerial images from drones can help emergency services and humanitarian organisations make decisions on the number of personnel and amount of equipment needed. Drones can also be equipped with thermal cameras and IoT sensors (e.g. gas and temperature sensors) to provide continuous, real-time updates.

SDG 11 mobile impact score

No Data Found

Source: GSMA Intelligence

Maximising mobile’s impact by 2030

Recent socio-political challenges, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, have raised new questions for cities and communities. The challenge is not just about sustainability and quality of life; it is also about the ability to respond to emergencies and crises. To tackle this, investments in smart cities will need to grow. Innovation is required in terms of public-private funding, governance models, city operations management and co-creation processes for smart city development.

As the 2030 dateline for achieving the SDG goals advances on the Mobile Industry and the world at large, the Axiata Group echoes the clarion call for expediency and the acceleration of focused initiatives towards delivering material and sustainable impacts. The delivery of Axiata’s Sustainable Development agenda is paced and measured through the Axiata Sustainability Framework which in turn incorporates the 2030 SDG based global priorities of the UN. The leverage of the power of inclusive mobile connectivity and the augmentation of its impact through IR4.0 technologies to address global challenges, is a central theme within the Axiata Sustainability Framework. We recognise that the mobile industry will play a foundational as well as pivotal role in shaping the impact of technology on people, planet and economy. At Axiata, while we are uniquely empowered through the technologies we lever, we also stand accountable for impact across the communities we serve, and remain singularly committed to the precepts of inclusion, climate action, positive social impact and the adoption of responsible and ethical practices across our ever-expanding digital value chain.”
Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, CEO of the Telecommunications Business and Group Executive Vice President, Axiata Group
Ecological energy renewable solar panel plant with urban landscape landmarks

Case Studies


Providing pit emptying services through a GIS-enabled app - KCCA

In 2017, KCCA was awarded a grant from the GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund to improve access to safe and reliable faecal sludge collection, transportation and disposal services for the residents in the informal settlements of Kampala city, Uganda. The project scaled KCCA’s pilot GIS tracking system, enabled by a mobile app and a call centre, while promoting the use of mobile money in partnership with MTN Uganda. This has enabled KCCA to track sanitation service delivery, build capacity for private entrepreneurs and promote the pit emptying business. Over 5000 pit emptying jobs have been completed under the grant so far.
We'd like to thank KCCA for taking care of toilet sanitation. This immensely increases our neighbourhood health. It makes me happy as the chairwoman of our neighbourhood."
Namulindwa Patricia, Uganda

Delivering water to urban homes through smart metering and mobile payments - CityTaps

In 2017, the GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities programme awarded CityTaps a grant to scale their prepaid water service platform to enable the urban poor to access affordable and safe running water at home. Their prepaid smart meter incorporates machine to machine (M2M) technology, which allows households to make micro-prepayments for their water at any time using mobile money. CityTaps is working in partnership with Orange Niger and the SEEN (Niger Water Utility Company) to trial 1,325 meters across Niamey, Niger.
"Since the new meter was installed, we have control over what we consume. We can do projections for a month, or two months if we have the money or we can do for a week or two weeks"
XXXXX, Niger

Improving electricity grid services through smart metering - Jazz

In May 2018, Jazz received a grant from the GSMA Mobile for Development Utilities Innovation Fund to develop and implement mobile-enabled theft prevention and a system loss reduction solution for a mainstream grid distributor. Jazz, along with its technology partner CISNR and grid distributor PESCO, is designing, developing and implementing an electricity theft prevention and distribution line-loss reduction solution.
There is no doubt there are a lot of benefits. One of the main benefits is that my future planning depends entirely on the data which I am going to collect from this project. What is their demand, and their basis for that? I can purchase electricity from the purchasing agency or other vendors"
Muhammad, Pakistan
Case Study

Telia reduces energy in buildings through IoT


The real estate industry – accounting for 40% of all energy used in cities and 36% of the CO2 emissions in Europe – is affected by high energy prices, inflation and interest rates. In the cold climate of Northern Europe, it is a priority to find new ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce consumption. Research shows that digitalistion is a key enabler of optimising operations and energy consumption. Two housing cooperations in Sweden, together with Telia, looked into how to optimise the district heating for their combined five buildings and nearly 100 apartments during the 2022/2023 winter season.


Telia offers its Heating Optimization solution in Sweden. Buildings are connected through NB-IoT sensors in each apartment to measure temperature and humidity and an installed connected control unit for the building management systems. In this way, buildings are equipped with an automated solution to optimise the energy consumption of their district heating based on real-time indoor temperature data.


The housing cooperations registered energy savings of 5–10% during the first winter months. The solution enables more evenly distributed heat based on a target temperature. Real-time data insights about each apartment’s temperature and humidity also help identify energy leaks, which provide further savings when acted upon. Heating Optimization helped identify faulty balcony doors, poorly working thermostats and hot water flows, which were repaired, eliminating energy wastage. Telia aims to scale up the solution in the Nordic countries.