© Screenshot der "City in Motion Index 2018" Map, © Business School IESE

Smart City Index – Who is the Smartest?

Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York once said: ‘If one wants to improve life for billions of people worldwide there is no other way than helping the cities to function much better.’  A large number of people do live in cities or in areas around a metropolis.  

But what cities are scoring in this respect at all? What does it depend on and what can others learn from this? Answers are given by the Business School IESE (Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa) in Barcelona. For five years now, this school has prepared a ranking of the smartest cities around the globe – ‘Cities in Motion Index’ is the name of the table, in short ‘CIMI’.

The results are based on the following criteria: human capital, social cohesion, economy, state leadership, environment, mobility and transport, urban development, international impact, and technology. The ‘Smart City Index’ (ISO 37120), by now internationally established, has been added to the calculations that also take into consideration issues such as waste disposal, waste water management, sanitary installations, emergency supply as well as the recreational value of a city. This year’s ranking by IESE also included criteria such as - certainly worth a discussion - the number of Apple stores, annual rise in temperature and the frequency of terror attacks.

What result was achieved in 2018?

Tthis year’s results were astonishing although no surprise regarding the top scorers: New York, London, Paris and Tokyo occupy the first four places. For many years by now, London and New York have been fighting for first place. The fact that New York won this race this year is above all due to its excellent result in the categories of urban development, economy, mobility and international importance. The topics environment and social cohesion have been rather a drawback which does, however, not affect its excellent overall result.

A big surprise amongst the top ten was Iceland’s capital Reykjavik on place 5, having just about 120,000 inhabitants, which shows that a city does not have to be a city of millions of inhabitants to become a Smart City. In this respect this year’s winners included quite a number of small to medium size cities, as for example, Wellington in New Zealand with approximately 190,000 inhabitants achieving place 18. This is partly due to the fact that especially smaller cities achieve a better mark in respect of social cohesion as compared to their distinctly larger rivals.

The fact that Reykjavík has achieved such a good place is mainly owed to the sections mobility, technology / digitalisation, environment, and state leadership. In this respect the city provides its inhabitants with one of the fastest and most reliable internet connections worldwide; up to 500 MB per second can be transmitted. In comparison, the average speed around the globe is 3.5 MB per second.  

In addition, Iceland’s capital has an excellent extensive network of public transport which has an internet portal well designed to be easily understood by users and tourists for navigation. Beyond that Reykjavík offers numerous car-sharing initiatives - and great emphasis is placed on electro-mobility. This is no surprise: After all Iceland is called the most sustainable country on earth, as it draws its energy to 100 per cent from renewable sources (hydro power and geothermal energy).  

Reykjavik’s administration, too, works utmost innovatively by inviting its citizens via an internet portal to take part in creating public life actively – which had been taken up at least once by about 60 per cent of the population. Wishes, criticism and ideas for new urban development projects can be entered via this portal. The city administration confers on the most liked ideas and also implements these. Nearly two million Euros have already been spent to implement 200 projects.Estonia liked this idea so much that its government introduced a similar system.

Berlin leads the German ranking

Berlin only just missed the Top Ten this year and landed on place 11. The city does extremely well in the categories of Mobility and Transport (Place 6), Internationality (Place 4), and Social Cohesion (Place 3). As earlier on, Berlin is still leading compared to other German cities. This year Hamburg is on Place 31, Munich Place 37, and Frankfurt Place 42. Due to its result achieved in the sections of Environment, Technology, and International Importance, Munich has been given lower marks compared to the previous year 2017.  

Overall Europe has top marks compared to the international competitors: It has the highest portion of Smart Cities that are high up in the ranking. Where Africa is concerned some cities stand out in particular: Tunis, Cairo, Johannesburg, and Lagos. However, values achieved in respect of the categories Environment and Economy are distinctly worse. The authors of the study offer a possible explanation: They ask to consider that the economy cannot grow medium- to long term due to sustainability being neglected during booming times.

An Asian city should be very happy about the result of this year’s ranking: The city is Hong Kong, which improved its position from Place 42 to Place 9 - and that in the course of one year! One of the reasons being: the government is due to invest shortly 700 million Dollar for infrastructure projects  - amongst others - in order to improve the electronic state leadership to equip all citizens with electronic identification marks (to improve data protection) and to smart up lively public squares more sustainably, more efficiently, safer, and more cost-effective.As for San Francisco - it lost points when social cohesion was evaluated and thus lost considerably in ranking.  

In our opinion, Berlin’s result is definitely remarkable and an incentive for the city as German’s Capital to make it into the Top Ten in 2019!