Almost every city in the world is nowadays trying to label itself as “smart”. Sensors to measure pollution, a new system to manage urban waste, a poll to let citizens decide on a municipal issue,… the list of things that are considered to increase the smartness of a city is endless. I am very happy every time I read about one of these new projects aimed at improving the functioning of the city or reducing the environmental impact of urban living. However, if every city is considered a smart city simply because they have implemented some of these solutions, citizens and therefore city governments will very quickly feel satisfied and won’t feel such a strong need to improve even more. Because of this, I believe objective evaluation and comparability between cities is primordial to drive competitiveness to cities to become more sustainable, liveable, innovative… more smart.
It is with this aim to enable objective evaluation, ranking and comparability among cities that the IESE Business School in Spain has developed the index Cities in Motion. The index is very comprehensive, which can be seen though the ten dimensions it covers: Governance, Public Management: , Urban Planning:, Technology, Environment, International Outreach, Social Cohesion, Mobility and Transportation, Human Capital, Economy. Each dimension is comprised of different indicators, and some of them rely on indices from other organizations used to measure more specific issues such as the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International or the Strength of Legal Rights Index by the World Bank. This I think, makes this index very objective and complete.
In my opinion a very interesting thing about this index is the visual tool they have developed to show the performance of each city in the different dimensions. This tool allows the reader to know the strengths and weaknesses of the city in question in one single sight. Look here to see the visual representation per any of the analysed cities by clicking in the map.
Looking at this visual representation for the first cities on the ranking, can in my opinion give place to debate. Tokio, the first of the ranking, has almost a zero on social cohesion, and London and New York (the second and third) also have quite a low score on this dimension. On the opposite, Zurich (the fourth on the ranking) although does not excel as much on some dimensions as the first three, it neither has a bad score in any dimension. Therefore, if I had to choose where to live maybe I would feel more inclined to choose Zurich, than Tokio.
Anyway I think this is, so far, the more accurate and complete index on smart cities I have come across. However, as the authors say in their report, “We understand this as a dynamic project. Here we present a first approximation, but we will keep working so the future editions of this index contain better indicators, greater coverage and a growing predictive value”, I am sure the index can and will be improved in the future. Since cities are such a complex and dynamic environment, any measurement system for cities must be so too.
For more information I recommend you to read this article in the Guardian written by the authors of the index, and here at the IESE portal you can also download the full report, although so far I think it is only available in Spanish.