Cities around the world have been building digital infrastructure and technologies for urban services over the past decade. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, cloud computing and 5G connectivity, offer city authorities many powerful tools to make cities smarter, safer, cleaner and more inclusive.
The first Digital Cities Index (DCI) 2022 lists a global ranking of 30 cities on four thematic pillars: connectivity, services, culture and sustainability. It is an indicator of the performance of cities around the world in terms of quantitative measures such as internet speed and qualitative factors such as the presence of strategies, policies and plans for technologies such as 5G and AI.
Ranking of cities based on connectivity
- Almost half of cities score below 70 out of 100, indicating that connectivity levels are too low or limited to enable full digital transformation.
- The pandemic has prompted municipalities around the world to step up their investments in connectivity, potentially creating a new era of more direct intervention to bridge digital divides.
Top 10 connected cities in DCI 2022
- Cities are ready for 5G, however, deployment must be comprehensive to allow the true benefits of next-generation connectivity to be fully realized. DCI cities recognize and support 5G and almost all have a strategy in place to recognize multiple use case applications such as fixed wireless access, enhanced mobile broadband, machine-like massive communications and IoT.
- Except for one city, all the others have deployed 5G in pilot projects and testing or commercial use. Increased private sector investment, new models of partnership between telecommunications companies and an enabling regulatory environment are needed to be truly transformational in areas such as autonomous transport.
- Singapore is the world leader in e-government services for residents and businesses with a mobile digital national ID card program and a comprehensive portal of e-government services for residents and businesses.
- New Delhi finds its way to the third tier of e-government services for residents and businesses, thanks in part to Aadhaar and a major digital transformation during the pandemic.
- Cities are embracing the health benefits of digital technology, with the majority scoring above 75, indicating wide application of digital health tools to support urban wellbeing. Urban healthcare facilities are using telehealth applications to improve citizen well-being and for lifestyle tracking, awareness raising and community building around healthy lifestyles.
- Five of the top ten cities dominating digital finance are in Asia, with Beijing, Seoul and Hong Kong being the top three.
- China and India lead the world in innovation in digital finance and payment infrastructure in terms of favorable government regulation and private sector innovation.
Leading cities in digital culture
- Cities in emerging markets, particularly in Asia, show higher levels of digital skills and greater satisfaction with e-government portals.
- The Economist Impact survey indicates that self-reported digital skills such as basic functional skills, coding, troubleshooting technical issues and mitigating cyber threats are highest in emerging market cities, with New Delhi, Dubai, Jakarta, Beijing, Mexico City, Manila, and Bangkok being the top seven cities. Trust in e-government is also highest in emerging market cities in Asia.
- The European and American cities of Dallas, New York, Washington DC, London, Berlin and Frankfurt lead the world in “AI readiness”. Singapore and Seoul are DCI Asian cities, ranked seventh and eighth respectively. These top performing cities are developing their own AI strategies that balance the need for innovation with regulation and oversight.
- Open data is dominated by Atlantic cities, with European and North American cities dominating the DCI in terms of open data access and usage policies. London, Toronto, Paris, Dallas, New York and Washington DC occupy the top five spots. Seoul is Asia’s top performer and takes seventh place.
- Open data has brought significant economic gains to cities through saving time, improving the quality of urban life, and improving social policy interventions, such as enabling cities to better understand the geographic distribution poverty, etc.
Leaders in digital sustainability
- Copenhagen, Seoul and Toronto score at least 90 out of 100 for their use of digital technology to support urban sustainability. 33% of cities achieved the highest possible score for smart utility management.
- Many cities in emerging markets scored below average despite having some of the highest sustainability risks. Beijing ranked fifth, ahead of Amsterdam, Sydney and London, which is creditable given its historical air pollution challenges. Beijing has applied digital technologies not only to fight air pollution, but also to optimize its public services and promote its sharing economy, proving that cities in emerging markets can be the first to use technology to address environmental challenges. Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and New Delhi were in the bottom five along with Mexico City.
- Ten DCI cities scored 100% in their use of digital technologies for smart utility management. Barcelona, one of the top performers, is using IoT to drive smarter energy use. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Madrid get full marks in their use of IoT-based traffic management, along with Dubai and Washington DC.
- Developments are very rare in Asia, as Manila, New Delhi, Tokyo, Bangkok, Seoul and Jakarta occupy the lowest positions. However, private sector entities like Alibaba with significant capabilities are investing in smart traffic innovations in Asia, particularly in China. Europe is also benefiting from investments made by Volkswagen and Siemens.
- A sharing economy allows goods and resources to be shared by individuals and groups, reducing waste. Cities like Amsterdam, Beijing, Copenhagen, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Sydney and Toronto have explicit plans, policies or frameworks to support the sharing economy, while the majority of cities do not have a plan in place.
Image and source credits: Digital Cities Index 2022
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