According to the Smart City Index 2020 published by the Institute for Management Development (IMD), Singapore tops the list again, followed by Helsinki and Zurich.
The remaining top ten smartest cities in 2020 are Auckland, Oslo, Copenhagen, Geneva, Taipei City, Amsterdam and New York City.
The SCI defines a ‘smart city’ as an urban setting that applies technology to enhance the benefits and diminish the shortcomings of urbanization for its citizens.
The Smart City Index rests on a holistic approach aiming to identify ‘the various dimensions of how citizens could consider that their respective cities are becoming better cities while becoming smarter ones’.
This year’s annual index ranked 109 cities around the world, compared to 102 cities in the last years’ first edition.
The index looks into a range of economic and technological factors. Researchers surveyed citizens at the height of COVID-19 pandemics in April and May 2020 on the technological aspects of their cities across five areas: health and safety, mobility, activities, opportunities and governance.
Citizens assessed their cities’ structures and technologies scoring on the scale from AAA to D. The only city to receive the top AAA rating was Singapore.
Two important findings came out of this year’s report.
The Index offered insights into the use of digital technology in supporting key services during the COVID-19 pandemics.
The findings indicate a correlation between the cities’ “smartness” and their ability to respond effectively to the health crisis.
Cities that embraced modern technologies in recent years were quick to use them for saving human lives and controlling damage caused by the pandemics.
Another important perspective is that many smart cities doing progress are not their countries capitals. It’s fairly simple: the bigger the city, the more difficult it is for them to become smart.
Brisbane, Dusseldorf or Manchester ranked higher in the index Sydney, Berlin or London. It turns out that the city administrations that listen to citizens’ needs have the power to improve their wellbeing by using key technologies.
Great smart city solutions
Some cities have seen enormous benefits after introducing one or a mix of smart solution. The secret is not to emulate recepies from other well-performing cities, but to introduce creative smart solutions that truly increase their citizens’ well-being.
Smart mobility – free parking for users of car sharing schemes has been introduced in Moscow and Bris reaping fabulous results.
Smart planning – after introducing free Wi-Fi Medellin’s crime rate dropped because citizens can easily report the crime.
How the Balkans’ cities fare?
We covered the first annual report earlier, that did not include cities from the Western Balkans. Compared to the inaugural report Bucharest dropped two positions to 87 (Overall rating – CC), Sofia’s ranking remained the same at 89 (CC), while Athens also dropped from 95 to 99 (C).
Budapest improved ranking up six positions to 77th (CCC), while Krakow jumped significantly from 69th position to 58th (B vs. CCC in 2019).
The cities in the Balkans can learn a lot from cities such as Krakow whose city administration showed great responsiveness to citizens’ needs.
It’s worth recalling that becoming a smart city doesn’t mean introducing more technology, but listening to the citizens’ opinions while using the existing technologies in a smart way.