Urban sustainability indicators play an important role in helping policy-makers ensure the continued success of their cities. However, a review of current practice suggests that priority is often given to the measurability and policy relevance of these metrics. Their analytical validity - i.e. their ability to act as meaningful representations of the urban system and thus inform appropriate policy responses - is less certain. An examination of London's USIs confirms this gap between theory and practice and identifies vague definitions of urban sustainability as part of the problem. A 'service niche' approach to indicator selection is therefore outlined, using pervasive goal-oriented urban services such as energy or water systems to guide the selection of policy-relevant interconnected metrics. Strategies for expanding such niches to wider assessments of urban sustainability are also discussed. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.
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