European and Asian cities dominate latest smart city rankings

European and Asian Cities Take Lead in Smart City Race, North America Falls Behind. Zurich named world's top smart cityZurich tops the 2024 Smart City Index, with European and Asian cities dominating the rankings. The report, released by the IMD World Competitiveness Center’s Smart City Observatory and the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO), analyses data and resident surveys from 142 cities globally. Seven of the top 10 smartest cities hail from Europe. These leading cities prioritize initiatives that improve residents’ quality of life, such as green spaces, cultural events, and social engagement. Additionally, they focus on attracting talent, fostering sustainable investments, and tackling inequality.

Notably absent are North American cities in the top 20 for the first time since the index began. Major US cities like Washington DC, Denver, and Los Angeles have seen significant declines in their rankings over the past three years. New York City holds the highest ranking for the US at 34th.

The IMD Smart City Observatory, in collaboration with the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO), produces the annual ranking. It assesses 142 cities worldwide based on infrastructure, technology, and citizen surveys. The goal is to understand how technology impacts a city’s performance and resident well-being.

So, what defines a smart city? The IMD defines it as an urban centre that leverages technology to improve the lives of its citizens and address urbanization challenges. Looking at the top performers, a common thread emerges: a focus on citizen wellbeing. Leading cities prioritise initiatives like developing green spaces, fostering cultural activities, and promoting social connection. They also implement innovative strategies to attract talent, encourage sustainable investment, and address social inequalities.

While Europe dominates the rankings, Asian cities are making significant strides. Singapore, a consistent top-10 contender, climbed two spots this year to claim the number 5 position. Other Asian standouts include Taipei City, which jumped an impressive 13 positions to reach 16th place.

These are the top 10 smart cities, according to the 2024 Smart City Index.

  1. Zurich, Switzerland
  2. Oslo, Norway
  3. Canberra, Australia
  4. Geneva, Switzerland
  5. Singapore
  6. Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. Lausanne, Switzerland
  8. London, England
  9. Helsinki, Finland
  10. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

The report’s authors emphasize the need for cities to adapt to a future filled with uncertainty. Growing health concerns, climate change, and international tensions all pose challenges. The report highlights the increasing importance of trust, good governance, and artificial intelligence (AI) in city design and management. Interestingly, the authors suggest that AI can actually help cities become more human-centric.

While North American cities may be lagging behind, the report sets out to offer valuable insights for urban planners worldwide. By focusing on citizen wellbeing, embracing innovation, and preparing for future challenges, cities can become smarter and more sustainable.