IMD Smart City Index Report 2023

IMD Smart City Index 2023 Introduction: AMore Precise, Relevant and Impactful Smart City Index

A New World is Shaping Up. Cities Tell Us Where to Look 1. Asia and Europe ahead of the pack? Apart from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, all of the cities occupying the top 20 are either in Europe or in Asia-Pacific. The absence of American or African cities is notable. New York ranks 22nd while Cairo (108th) is the leading African city. Medellin (118th) is the leading South American one. The 2023 rankings reflect a growing interest and higher levels of concern about the quality of life that residents are expecting to enjoy in their respective cities. Size is often a handicap rather than an advantage in this regard. This explains why most large metropolises such as Boston (34th) or Paris (46th) rank relatively low in the index, in spite of remarkable progress in a number of key areas such as sustainability and mobility. 2. ‘Second tier’ cities continue to do better than the rest. Although the SCI’s top 20 include 12 capital cities (such as Oslo and Canberra), and several ‘economic capitals’ (like Zurich and Dubai), the picture is different when one looks at the top half of the rankings (1 to 70); a significant number of medium sized cities show both solid positions and a continuous ability to move up. In Europe, this is the case for Lausanne, Munich and Bilbao, for example, and elsewhere in the world it rings true for Montreal, Mecca and Denver.

Continuing to Improve the SCI There are different ways to improve the quality of the SCI. Expanding the number of cities studied will always extend the scope of the index. Employing more focused data will improve the accuracy of the index and allow for a meaningful comparison among different qualities of cities. Finally, fine tuning the construction of the ranking improves its relevance as an action tool, and allows for better comparisons between cities. The 2023 SCI makes advances in all three dimensions. As flagged earlier, the city coverage of the SCI index and report has increased by almost 20 per cent, bringing the total number of smart cities to 141. Using city-specific data for the construction of the Index was the focus of our research in 2022. In its new design, the SCI employs a city-specific measure of the HDI initially produced by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). HDI is a composite index that combines information about life expectancy, expected years of schooling and the mean years of education completed, as well as the per capita income of a country’s citizens. Until this year, the SCI used country-level HDI information as a proxy to evaluate the dimensions of health, knowledge and standard of living in each city. The 2023 SCI features city-level HDI, provided by the Global Data Lab. This allows for a more accurate ranking of each city, whilst also allowing readers to compare the performance of any given city to that of the country in which it is found. Finally, city-level HDI facilitates a more academically rigorous comparison among cities. The 2023 SCI standardizes the performance of a city with the average of the city-HDI and the average of the surveys. This allows for a meaningful classification of a city relative to all other cities covered by the Index.

3. Smart city strategies are undergoing deep changes. The basic principle that led to the creation of the Smart City Index in 2019 was that if cities wanted to be smarter, they needed to be less technology-centric, and more human-focused. Since then, this way of conceiving the nature and purpose of smart cities has moved closer to being mainstream. Many city officials are now routinely using a variety of different expressions in lieu of ‘smart cities’: ‘open and innovative cities’,’ inclusive and diverse cities’, ‘sustainable cities’ and ‘citizen centric cities’ are becoming part of the new labelling of ‘smart cities’ that were. But this is not merely a semantic change; it reflects deep changes in the way smart cities (and cities in general) will be designed and managed. Thanks to its initial design and philosophy, the Smart City Index is emerging as a critical tool to benchmark progress along those new lines. The SCI’s updated methodology will further enhance its relevance as these changes gather momentum. 4. Inclusion and diversity are emerging as key benchmarks for success. An increasing number of cities are deploying new efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion as part of their smart strategies, variously linked to strategies to attract or retain talent, or to pre-existing conditions. Higher levels of tolerance for immigrants and minorities are becoming a marker in the ‘quality of life’ category, and in ‘leaving no one behind’ – a key phrase in defining the future of smart cities. Moreover, cities continue to accept (and, sometimes, seek) new roles, as central governments strive to become more agile through decentralization. Even at the international level, at a time in which many multilateral efforts seem to be losing momentum at the nation-states level, cities and their leaders are becoming more visible. Openness and inter-city collaboration may very well become key components of the next wave of globalization.

IMD Smart City Index 2023


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