Top 10 smart cities in the world

By Laura Mullan
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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