HomeConnectivityThe top 10 smart cities – ranked according to their infrastructure and potential

The top 10 smart cities – ranked according to their infrastructure and potential

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 fist of these measures – the top 10 smart cities, globally, in terms of their base-line infrastructure, established as a platform for slicker operations and brighter innovations.

Singapore, New York, Seoul, Stockholm, and Amsterdam rank highest in the McKinsey review, a list that might also be construed as review of cities’ potential ‘smartness’, rather than their actual intelligence. McKinsey’s parallel assessment, of leading cities’ deployment of smart-city applications on top, can be found here, and makes for an interesting read, with only few of the cities appearing again.

Either way, high-income cities are better positioned, on both lists. In terms of infrastructure, they have invested extensively in city-wide fixed and wireless broadband aready, and are invariably threading sensors with new low-power wide-area (LPWA) networks as well, and developing open portals and compliance techniques to re-organise themselves around digital intelligence.

The total score for each city’s three-tier infrastructure – communications, sensors, data – is marked out of 37; it is unclear how these components are weighted, and scored apart. But the best-performing cities are only two-thirds of the way there (Singapore scores 25 out of 37, and New York City scores 24.4, which work out about 68 and 66 per cent, respectively; Chicago in tenth position is closer 55 per cent).

“All cities have more upside potential. Even the most advanced cities are only about two-thirds of the way toward achieving what constitutes a fully comprehensive technology base today in terms of the extent of sensors and devices, the quality of communication networks, and the presence of open data portals,” says the report.

Naturally, cities have better developed communications infrastructure than sensors networks and data portals; these last components are newer, by turn, and less entrenched. As a rule of thumb, Asian cities appear to have marginally higher rankings for fixed and wireless broadband; Singapore and Seoul score highest for communications. By contrast, European cities, notably Stockholm and Amsterdam, are better equipped with sensors.

The prevalence of open data portals, meanwhile, is steady, and rather low, across regions. A handful of cities in North America, New York City does ranks well on every count.

Unsurprisingly, the results, inching towards a C+ grading overall, reflect the market’s continuing struggle to reconcile commercial enterprise and civil services, as articulated by Cisco after its seminal CityVerve experiment in Manchester, in the UK, closed at the end pf last month. The exam criteria will shift in the next years, with the market’s expectations, as 5G also takes hold, and cities are ranked for their progress against such crucial new measures.

It might be noted, the starred cities in the graphic below are the only ones to feature in McKinsey’s parallel review of smart city applications, which might rather be a review of the relative digital (hyper) activity of the world’s most enlightened tech cities.

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