London ranked world’s smartest city in IESE Cities in Motion Index 2022

London ranked world’s smartest city in IESE Cities in Motion Index 2022

New York (2nd) and Paris (3rd) round out the top 3 in the index, which evaluates cities’ sustainability and quality of life for residents

London has been ranked the smartest city in the world, followed by New York (2) and Paris (3), according to the 2022 edition of the IESE Cities in Motion Index. The index ranks 183 cities worldwide on a range of key dimensions linked to sustainability and quality of life for inhabitants.

Tokyo (4), Berlin (5), Washington (6), Singapore (7), Amsterdam (8), Oslo (9) and Copenhagen (10) complete the top 10 list of the ranking, which is prepared by IESE Business School’s Center for Globalization and Strategy and co-authored by professors Pascual Berrone and Joan Enric Ricart.

Key points of this year’s ranking

  • While London and New York are both highly developed and smart cities, the U.K. capital stands out in human capital, international profile, and urban planning. New York ranks strongly in the economy, transportation and mobility, and urban planning. But both underperform in social cohesion and environment.
  • Movements within this year’s ranking are due almost exclusively to economic factors. “The pandemic has had a significant impact on both GDP levels and GDP growth prospects and is the main factor behind changes in the rank of individual cities,” the report notes. An example of that is Dublin, which jumped to 18th in the ranking on the back of strong growth projections.
  • Europe scores particularly well in the index. Six of the ranking's top ten are European: London (1), Paris (3), Berlin (5), Amsterdam (8), Oslo (9), and Copenhagen (10). Moving beyond the top 10, Europe remains very well represented, with 28 cities in the top 50.
  • North American cities – 24 U.S. and Canadian cities are included in the index -- perform well overall, and are particularly strong in the economic dimension. New York (2) and Washington (6) are in the top 10.
  • The world's developing countries continue to struggle to break into the top spots. Among Latin American cities, the highest ranking goes to Santiago (75), followed by Buenos Aires (103) and Mexico City (115). Cape Town (141) has the best position in Africa.
  • For Asia, Tokyo (4) leads the ranking for the region, thanks to its economy, international profile, governance, and technology. Singapore ranks 7th overall.

Diagnostic tool for cities

The index offers an important diagnostic tool for the long-term health of cities. “In addition to long-standing challenges facing cities, including aging populations, heterogeneous social demands, the digital divide, and environmental problems, there are now new challenges arising from the recent pandemic and the economic and social consequences of the war in Ukraine,” the study notes. Those include unemployment, inflation, segregation, migration, and poverty.

“The scope and magnitude of these issues pose new challenges for the sustainability of cities. In this context, the concept of urban resilience (i.e., the ability of cities to overcome adverse circumstances) seems more important than ever.

“To meet these challenges, all the world’s cities need to undertake a process of strategic review and consider what kind of cities they want to be, what their priorities will be going forward, and where they currently stand. Our index aims to offer a platform for comprehensive initial diagnosis of the cities considered and, through comparative analysis, serve as a first point of reference for other cities,” the report concluded.

The latest results can be explored in an online map, where it's possible to compare cities and drill down to see scores within each of the nine dimensions. The Cities in Motion Index (CIMI) calculator is also available here: the tool allows users to enter indicator data for a city and discover how it would rank based on this input. The calculator can also be used to show how a city's ranking might change as its inputs change.

About the Cities in Motion Index

IESE's Cities in Motion Index ranks cities according to how they score on nine key dimensions:

  • human capital (developing, attracting and nurturing talent)
  • social cohesion (harmony among different social groups in a city)
  • economy (including current and estimated GDP)
  • governance (the quality of state interventions)
  • environment (pollution levels, water quality and other gages of ecosystem vitality)
  • mobility and transportation (ease of movement and access to public services)
  • urban planning (including health infrastructure, sanitation services and housing policy)
  • international profile (branding and strategic tourism outreach)
  • technology (smart uses of ICT technologies)

In the eighth edition, it ranks a total of 183 cities, including 85 national capitals, and 92 countries are represented, making the Cities in Motion Index a global leader in geographic coverage.

This year's report increased the number of indicators included in each dimension to a total of 114. New indicators include measures of LGBTQ+-friendly policies and racial tolerance (human capital dimension); artificial intelligence (AI) projects and electric vehicle charging (urban planning dimension); and climate vulnerability (environment dimension). These variables are intended to capture new advances and challenges as they emerge.

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