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New Study Says Singapore Is the ‘Smartest City’ in the World, but Ranks Other Southeast Asian Cities at the Bottom

The city-state leads in both reliable infrastructure and technology for residents.
Singapore skyline
The Singapore Skyline. Photo by Silvan Metzker on Unsplash.

This article originally appeared on VICE Asia

Singapore is often called the “city of the future,” and it has once again lived up to this title, at least according to the IMD Smart City Index released this week.

According to the study by the IMD World Competitiveness Center’s Smart City Observatory and the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore is the “smartest city” in the world. The index defines a "smart city" as an “urban setting that applies technology to enhance the benefits and diminish the shortcomings of urbanisation.”


Its findings were derived from the point of view of the city's residents, by polling 120 people from 102 cities. The survey considered various categories like health and safety, mobility, activities, opportunities, and governance.

"Singapore topped the ranking because, according to its citizens, it is performing superbly in providing high quality infrastructure in the areas we study, while at the same time, adopting technologies in an efficient way to make the lives of the Singaporeans better," Christos Cabolis, chief economist at IMD Business School's Competitiveness Centre, told The Straits Times.

According to Singapore residents, the city-state has high public safety, lifelong learning opportunities provided by local institutions, green spaces, and online access to job listings.

However, Singapore is only one of two Asian cities in the Top 10. Taipei, which ranks 7th, is the other. Taipei residents ranked the city high in health and safety, activities such as shows and museums being readily available, and good governance.

Other cities in the top 10 are Zurich (2nd), Oslo (3rd), Geneva (4th), Copenhagen (5th), Auckland (6th), Helsinki (8th), Bilbao (9th), and Dusseldorf (10th).

Singapore’s Southeast Asian neighbours lagged way behind. Ho Chi Minh is 65th, Hanoi is 66th, Kuala Lumpur is 70th, Bangkok is 75th, and Manila is 94th.

Manila had the lowest ranking in Asia, with residents giving it very low scores on mobility and governance. Manila’s traffic is only getting worse. Cars are usually at a standstill during rush hour due to a lack in efficient public transportation and infrastructure. In another recent study by the Asia Development Bank (ADB), Manila was deemed the most congested in Asia.

Other cities ranked in the bottom 10 of the IMD list are Cape Town (93rd), Athens (95th), Rio de Janeiro (96th), Abuja (97th), Bogota (98th), Cairo (99th), Nairobi (100th), Rabat (101st), and Lagos (102nd).

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