Copenhagen has topped the inaugural Digital Cities Index from Economist Impact, the research and analysis arm of The Economist Group.
The global ranking rates 30 cities across four pillars: connectivity, services, culture and sustainability.
Research combines quantitative and qualitative analysis, and a survey of 3,000 residents across the cities. The results show how cities are performing in terms of metrics like internet speed as well as qualitative factors such as the presence of strategies and policies for technologies like 5G and artificial intelligence.
The top-performing cities in the Digital Cities Index are Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Beijing, London and Seoul, with the latter two tied in fourth position. Copenhagen scored very highly in all pillars except for culture.
The report notes that the high scores of Amsterdam, Beijing and Seoul were driven by their performance in the sustainability and connectivity pillars, while London scored highly for services.
Source: Economist Impact
Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, commented: “In Copenhagen, we have adopted many digital solutions that citizens benefit from in their everyday life. You can book a new passport online, we offer virtual rehabilitation, everyone has a digital identity, and almost everyone gets their mail from the authorities online.”
But she puts the city’s success down to a non-technical element.
“A key factor to this high level of digitalisation is trust,” she commented. “We also have a strong focus on digital solutions that contribute to a more sustainable city.”
This includes a project to automate heating and cooling systems in buildings and reduce emissions.
“We have implemented these and many more solutions because they help us deliver a more efficient service to the citizens and build a smarter and more sustainable future,” said Andersen.
In August 2021, the Economist Intelligence Unit also ranked Copenhagen as the world’s safest city.
Smart city evolution
Spending on smart city technology is forecast to reach US$327 billion by 2025, from US$96 billion in 2019.
The Economist Impact report, which was supported by NEC, notes that the smart city agenda has shifted from an early top-down, technology-led approach to a “new era” of focusing on problems to be solved and engaging residents and businesses.
It finds that the top-performing digital cities are those that use technology to achieve clear policy goals such as inclusion or sustainability; engage citizens and stakeholders from design to delivery; monitor technology efforts to ensure adequate returns on investment; and identify unintended negative consequences.
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