Jun 14, 2019

Top 10 smart cities in the world

Laura Mullan
5 min
With smart transportation services to greener buildings, smart cities are quickly revolutionising the way we think about urban living. We examine the top ten smart cities from across the world, according to the IESE Cities in Motion Index.
With smart transportation services to greener buildings, smart cities are quickly revolutionising the way we think about urban living. We examine the...

With smart transportation services to greener buildings, smart cities are quickly revolutionising the way we think about urban living. We examine the top ten smart cities from across the world, according to the IESE Cities in Motion Index.

10. Amsterdam

Amsterdam was rated the 10th best smart city in the world and the 4th best in Western Europe, according to the IESCE Cities in Motion Index. In particular, the Dutch capital was commended for being the 3rd best city for technology, the 6th best city for international outreach and the 13th best city for urban planning. The Amsterdam Smart City (ASC) project is already showing promise. In one partnership, the city worked with local businesses and corporations to test sustainable solutions on Utrechtsestraat, a major shopping avenue in the city. The ‘Climate Street’ initiatives included energy-efficient lighting, waste reduction and recyclable tram stops, helping to cut energy use on Utrechtsestraat by 10%.

9. Hong Kong

Hong Kong has also gained a top spot on the leaderboard as the 9th best smart city in the world. The city was highlighted for its technological efforts, with the IESE noting: “this city has a high innovation index, almost 100% of its population have mobile telephones, and it has a high number of wireless access points globally. It also stands out for the number of social media users and the number of mobile phones per capita.” As part of its smart city plans, Hong Kong has also implemented a new electronic ID (e-ID) system, for instance.

8. Toronto

Gaining the 8th spot on the leaderboard, the Canadian city of Toronto has also made significant strides with its smart city efforts. The city was particularly applauded by the IESE for its strong governance and urban planning. As part of its smart city endeavours, Sidewalk Labs (which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.) and the Canadian government agency, Waterside Toronto, are working together to create a smart waterfront development known as Quayside. The firms say that the development will “combine forward-thinking urban design and new digital technology to create people-centred neighbourhoods that achieve precedent-setting levels of sustainability, affordability, mobility, and economic opportunity.”

7. Seoul

The South Korean capital of Seoul has been named by the IESE as the 7th best smart city in the world. In March, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it will install 50,000 Internet of Things (IoT) smart sensors throughout the capital by 2020 to collect information on fine dust, traffic and other issues related to citizens’ lives, according to reports by Yonhap News Agency. Additionally, this year, the city also plans to introduce a shared parking service which uses IoT sensors to allow citizens check the availability of public parking.





6. Singapore

Gaining recognition for its efforts surrounding technology, governance, international outreach and the environment, Singapore was classified as the 6th best smart city in the world by the IESE. As part of its smart efforts, the city implemented a transportation system called One Monitoring, a comprehensive portal whereby citizens can access traffic information collected from surveillance cameras installed on roads and taxi vehicles using GPS. Additionally, Singapore has also implemented a Parking Guidance System which provides drivers with real-time information on parking availability. In 2015, the city also introduced smart bins as part of a smart waste management programme.

5. Reykjavik

The Icelandic capital of Reykjavik stands out in 5th position in the smart city ranking. The city was particularly commended for its environmental smart city initiatives, gaining the top spot in this category.  For example, the city recently promoted a public transportation app for city buses in the greater Reykjavík area called Straetó. The app has been downloaded 85,000 times and has encouraged citizens to use buses more frequently. The Icelandic capital has tried to involve the public in its plans through Better Reykjavik, an online consultation forum where citizens can present their ideas on the services and operations of the city.

4. Tokyo

Not only is Tokyo the highest-ranking smart city in the Asia-Pacific region, it’s also the 4th best smart city in the world, according to the IESE index. As one of the most popular metropolitan areas in the world with a high rate of labour productivity, the city particularly stood out in the ranking for its economy and human capital. Set to host the Olympic Games in 2020, Tokyo will use face recognition technology to improve security whilst driverless taxis are expected to ferry athletes and tourists from place to place.

3. Paris

Claiming the third spot on the ranking is the French capital of Paris. The report shone a spotlight on the city’s efforts in international outreach as well as mobility and transportation. For instance, the city is currently in the midst of developing the Grand Paris Express which will feature 127 miles of fully-automated metro lines and 68 new stations. By 2050, the city will also replace the entire 4,500-bus fleet of the RATP (the Paris Region’s primary public transport operator) with electric or natural gas vehicles (NGVs).

2. London

Standing as the highest-ranking European city, London was also highlighted as the second-best smart city in the world by the IESE. The city is the capital and most populous city in the United Kingdom and is a nerve centre in areas such as the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, media, research, tourism, and transportation. The report underlined London as the city best placed when it comes to human capital, and it was also recognised for its mobility and transportation, international outreach, economy, governance, technology and urban planning.

1. New York City

For the second year in a row, New York City topped the leaderboard as one of the most developed smart cities in the world. With a population sitting above 8.5 million, New York City uses 1 billion gallons of water each day. As part of its smart city plan, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection is deploying a large-scale Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system to get a better snapshot of water consumption, while giving customers a useful tool to check their water use each day. The city has also turned to Bigbelly solar powered “smart” bins which monitor trash levels and ensures waste pick-up is scheduled regularly.

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Jun 15, 2021

China Takes Additional Step to Control Big Tech’s Data

Elise Leise
3 min
The Chinese government wants big tech companies like Tencent and Tiktok to hand over their immense stores of user information ─ and they’ll force it by law

China’s new Data Security Law will take effect on September 1st, allowing the government major control over the collection, use, and transmission of data. Tech companies have grown exponentially in terms of market size and overall power, and the Chinese government has no interest in alternative power hubs—especially those that belong to private enterprise. 


With its Thursday legislation, companies will face extravagant fines if they export data outside of China without authorisation. The Chinese government claims that this will create a legal framework and help companies from taking advantage of citizens, but according to analyst Ryan Fedasiuk from Georgetown University’s Centre for Security and Emerging Technology, “China’s push for data privacy...is yet another move to strengthen the role of the government and the party vis-à-vis tech companies.”


How Do Other Countries Approach Data Privacy? 


  • Europe: The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights assures EU citizens the right to data protection. The bloc’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), passed in May of 2018, put stringent restrictions on commercial data collection. 
  • Canada: 28 federal, provincial, and territorial laws govern consumer data privacy; DLA Piper ranks the country’s data protection legislation as heavy, in comparison to Russia (medium) and India (limited). 
  • The United States: As usual, the States doesn’t have a single comprehensive federal law for data privacy. Instead, its lawmakers have passed hundreds of local and state acts, many of which are seen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)


China, in contrast, thinks data should be a national asset and has written data collection into its five-year plan. Although its new legislation will help curtail private access to consumer data, the government may be the final beneficiary. 


What Will China Do With the Data? 

According to advisors, consumer data can mitigate financial crises and viral outbreaks. It can protect the interest of national security—no surprise—and help the government with criminal surveillance. Right now, Chinese regulators have summoned 13 major tech firms, including Tencent, JD.com, Meituan, and ByteDance, to meet with China’s central bank. Communist Party Chief President Xi Jinping can shut down any companies found violating the new privacy laws, as well as hit them with a fine of up to 10 million yuan—US$1.6mn


How Will Laws Affect Foreign Firms? 

Now, foreign firms must store data on Chinese soil, a practice that many companies protest will infringe on their proprietary data. So far, Tesla will comply: in late May, the electric car manufacturer promised to build more Chinese factories and keep the resulting information within Chinese borders. In fact, businesses hoping to start China-based businesses—such as Citigroup and BlackRock—will have to comply with the “data-localisation laws”. 


The Chinese government has framed data as a critical source of intelligence for the party and central government. “You have the most sufficient data, then you can make the most objective and accurate analyses”, Mr Xi told Tencent’s founder, Mr Ma. “The...suggestions to the government in this regard are very valuable”. 


Greater digital control is coming, that’s for sure. Mr Xi has named big data as an essential part of China’s economy, right up there with land and labour. “Whoever controls data will have the initiative”. 

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