The top 10 smart cities – ranked according to their applications and activity
New research by McKinsey Global Institute has evaluated the planet’s smartest cities on both their underlying infrastructure and their over-lying applications, and ranked them in order on both counts. Here, we consider the second of these measures – the top 10 smart cities, globally, in terms of their rollout of applications in top of their base-line infrastructure.
With the exception of London, where smart-city mobility is streets ahead (even within a region that has put most emphasis on solving the issue of traffic congestion and pollution), North American and Asian cities lead the way in application rollout, according to the McKinsey assesment, which might be likened to a measure of live smart-city activity.
McKinsey gauged each city’s progress using a checklist of better-established smart city applications, grouped under five broad themes: mobility, security, utilities, healthcare, and ‘economic development, housing, and community’, which might be more simply described as state support and engagement. It considered a weighted composite of deployments and trials in its analysis, and marked them out of 55.
As with its parallel review of available infrastructure, which covers their communications, sensors, and open data, McKinsey finds even the most technologically astute cities on the planet are struggling to get out of second gear, awarding the joint top-scorers (London, Los Angeles, New York City) an optimistic B- grade, and most of the rest with a middling C average. And these are the ‘outliers’, the enlightened few. Cisco describes very well the extant challenge for smart cities here, in an extensive three-part interview.
It is notable European cities rank lower in their deployments, compared with their counterparts in North America and Asia – and their own showing for infrastructure. Indeed, just three of the top 10 for smart-city activity are Europe-based; four out of the best-prepped for urban digital pyrotechnics are in Europe, and tend to rank higher in the table, on average.
Alarmingly, Amsterdam is the only European city to rate on both lists – Stockholm, Copenhagen and Barcelona, which tend to appear near the summit of most smart-city lists, have the means, but not the way, it seems. All European cities are majoring on the transport crisis; major contenders in North America and Asia Pacific are focused on mobility, too, but they appear to have a more rounded vision – or more numerous worries.
Notably, security applications, comprising surveillance and crime mapping, have “vaulted to the top of the priority list” for cities in the Americas – including Mexico City, the report notes, which does not rank overall. North American cities tend to lead the way in smart healthcare applications, the report finds; the world’s capital cities are fairly evenly split around progress with utilities applications.
On the challenge to digitise government services, the report highlights the good work by Boston and Seattle, also outside the top 10, with 311 apps for non-emergencies, and Barcelona’s digital platform to engage residents in the city’s decision making.
It might be noted, only starred cities in the graphic below appear in both McKinsey’s review of city architecture and applications.