Singapore ranked first in the 2020 edition of the Smart Cities Index, which aims to assess cities in terms of citizens’ needs. Bratislava ranked 76th out of 109 cities with a year-on-year improvement of 8 places.
Singapore is the world’s most “smart” city in 2020, according to a unique global “citizen-centered” urban environment assessment that reveals the need to align policy with the lives and needs of ordinary citizens.
The IMD World Competitive Center, in cooperation with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) presented the second edition of the The Smart Cities Index 2020 (SCI 2020), which ranks 109 cities from around the world.
The effects associated with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic further underlines the importance of technologies and their use in specific services for the citizens and businesses.
The Global Trend of Smart Cities
Being a globally recognized “smart” city is crucial for attracting investment and talent, creating a potential engine for the development of a group of cities such as Singapore, Helsinki or Zurich.
The first 10 smartest cities according to the index in 2020 were: Singapore (1st), Helsinki (2nd), Zurich (3rd), Auckland (4th), Oslo (5th), Copenhagen (6th), Geneva (7th). ), Taipei (8th), Amsterdam (9th) and New York (10th).
As the only global index of its kind, the Smart City Index aims to assess how citizens perceive the scope and impact of cities’ efforts to be “smart” and to balance the economic and technological aspects of development with the human aspects important to their own lives.
Hundreds of residents were involved in the evaluation of cities, who evaluated the technologies and organization of their city in terms of five areas: 1: Health and Safety, 2. Mobility, 3. Activities, 4. Opportunities (work and education), and 5. Governance.
Bratislava: Waking Up Slowly Compared to Other Central European Capitals
Bratislava ranked 76th with negative feedback from citizens in several key areas. Compared to last year, it has improved its position by 8 places. Bratislava is doing best in some areas of Health and Safety, namely in terms of public security and low levels of air pollution.
On the contrary, Bratislava is not doing well in terms of the availability of cheap rental housing and the quality of health services. The second area where Bratislava is doing well is the area of opportunities where the quality of schools and the availability of jobs are positively assessed.
Bratislava received the greatest criticism in the evaluation of mobility (due to congestion and low quality of public transport) and in the evaluation of green spaces.
Bratislava also has weak results in the evaluation of technological solutions to specific urban problems. The only three aspects where Bratislava has an above-average rating are the possibility of public WiFi access to city services, an online system for monitoring public transport and online information on job vacancies.
On the other hand, Bratislava lags most behind in the possibility of an available application for monitoring air pollution, free parking spaces, or online services for starting a business. According to the respondents, the priority areas should be, in particular, the solution of traffic jams and affordable housing.
In comparison, neighbouring Vienna ranked 25th (down 8 places), Prague ranked 44th (down 25 places), Warsaw ranked 55th (up 6 places) and Krakow ranked 58th (up 11 places). Budapest finished just behind Bratislava in 77th place (improvement by 6 places). From our region, Bratislava overtook Bucharest in 87th place and Sofia in 89th place.
Abuja (107th), Nairobi (108th) and Lagos (109th) were at the bottom of the rankings. Of the European cities, the worst were Kiev (98th), Athens (99th) and, shockingly, Rome (101st), which fell by 24 places.
Prague dominates especially in the area of job and educational opportunities for its inhabitants. In terms of structures, it has weaknesses in the area of the traffic situation, lack of green spaces, affordable housing and corruption within the city.
In the field of technological solutions, Prague has good results in the area of publishing new job offers, the possibility of online availability of tickets for cultural events or public transport. Prague still lacks a technological solution informing about road traffic permeability.
Vienna dominates in terms of existing structures for solving public problems. Unlike Bratislava and Prague, Vienna has an above-average rating of transport solutions, where residents appreciate the quality of public transport as well as measures to reduce peak traffic.
In addition, Vienna has world-class capabilities in health services, air quality, waste recycling and public safety. Vienna achieves weaker results only in terms of the use of new technologies in the field of public services, in the form of new applications, security cameras or intelligent transport solutions.
Compared to last year, Bratislava has caught up with Budapest, which has improved by 6 places compared to last year. In terms of existing structures, Budapest has a problem mainly in the availability of cheap housing, poor quality of health care and negative moods towards foreigners or minorities.
On the contrary, the positives of Budapest are mainly in the area of available jobs, successful businesses and lifelong learning opportunities.
However, in terms of technology, Budapest has huge weaknesses due to their poor use to improve citizens’ access to public or commercial services.
Biggest improvements in comparison with the first year have been recorded by New York (improved by 28 places to 10th place), Washington D.C. (improved by 19 places to 12th place), Medellin (improved by 19 places to 72nd place) or Riyadh (improved by 18 places to 53rd place).
In the opposite direction, Lyon (a drop of 28 places to 51st place), Prague (a drop of 25 places to 44th place), Madrid (a drop of 24 places to 45th place), but also the Chinese cities of Shenzen (by 24 places to 67th place), Shanghai and Beijing (down 22 places to 81st and 82nd place).
Compared to last year, Munich (11th), Manchester (17th), Hamburg (22nd), Newcastle (23rd), Phoenix (39th), Tallinn (59th) and Marseille (78th) were added to the rankings.
The Growing Importance of Second Cities
This year’s rankings also highlighted the ability of countries to develop cities beyond their capital. In the 2020 rankings, Bilbao fares better than Madrid, and Birmingham this year improved by 12 positions whereas London jumped just five.
“Look at France. The Paris region accounts for a sizeable part of the economic activity of the entire country,” said Bris. “But then look at the US, China, Australia or Taiwan, and second cities have become more important, sometimes more so than the capital.”
“As a signal of a country’s development, it’s important to develop those cities,” he added, recommending that policy makers promote competitiveness of second cities to improve the overall economic health of a country.
The Main Differences Within Countries
Smart is a relative concept. “Different cities use technology for different things. Whether it’s improving traffic in the case of Paris or supporting the development of civic participation through the offer of free WIFI in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, “said Bris.
Chicago has an ambitious technology plan based on hyperconnectivity; Abu Dhabi has an environmental project and Birmingham is one of the best-performing cities in the UK in terms of population mobility.
That is why we see huge differences in the level of smart cities in the same country. They differ in terms of their economy, social problems (eg unequal access to the health system) and the measures taken.
“Countries are no longer economic units,” says Bris. Mayors and local authorities have increasing powers to improve the quality of life of citizens by implementing technology. “The American city of Boston is a good example of how much a person a mayor has to manage his or her city.”
In the context of this ranking, a “smart city” is an urban environment that uses technology to increase the benefits and reduce the shortcomings of urbanization for its citizens. The ranking is the first of its kind in that it measures citizens’ perceptions in terms of the impact of technology on their quality of life.
Other rankings that measure the “smartness” of cities are usually sector-specific and look at specific types of technology.