Smart cities are a concept that has been gaining popularity in recent years. The IMD defines a smart city as one that has become more efficient, environmentally friendly and/or socially inclusive through the use of technology. Its goal is to attract more citizens and/or businesses by developing the services it provides. These can include city services such as electricity, traffic management and public parking. Urban areas around the world are becoming increasingly smarter through rapid development. A recent study by ProptechOS highlighted the top smart cities in Europe and the U.S. Let’s check out their findings below.
Though there are many ways to measure how “smart” a city is, in order to objectively rank cities for this study, ProptechOS devised 11 measurements that define a smart city. These can be grouped into three categories: Tech Infrastructure and Connectivity, Green Infrastructure and a Tech-Driven Job Market. These three metrics are further broken down into more specific criteria for a more objective ranking system.
Tech Infrastructure and Connectivity
This metric is the largest and comprises of six criteria. These include how many free WiFi hotspots are available in cities, broadband download speeds and the number of 5G network towers.
Additionally, there are criteria pertaining to companies that deal with the Internet of Things (IoT). This includes the number of IoT companies and the ratio of IoT companies per 100,000 residents. IoT deals with physical objects that have sensors, processors, software and other technological components that send or exchange data with other systems over the internet and/or other communications networks.
Finally, the last criterion within this component is the availability of airports in the given city.
The Green Infrastructure category is broken down into three sub-criteria. These are as follows: The number of publicly-accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging points, how many EV charging points per 10,000 city residents and the number of “green certified” buildings found in the city.
Tech-Driven Job Market
A tech-driven job market is the last primary metric that was used in this study. It comprises of two parts. The first is the number of tech jobs in the city. The second is how this number compares to the city’s population – i.e. the percentage of tech jobs per 10,000 residents.
The analysis began with a seed list of 100 cities across the U.S. and Europe. These comprised of mainly country/state capitals or the most-populated cities. The researchers then used the 11 criteria discussed above to compare each city. Each of the cities received a score out of 100 for each of the three primary categories and an overall final score out of 100 based on the scores for each component.
The top-ranking U.S. cities
In the U.S., the highest-ranking city overall is Austin, Texas. Austin scored 87.7% in the first category (technology infrastructure) and 91.7% in the second category (green infrastructure). This means it significantly outranks several other cities in the U.S. Its total score is 75.4 out of 100. Some other interesting features about Austin include that it has 329 publicly accessible EV charging stations, making it the eighth highest in the U.S. It also ranks eighth in the country for the number of IoT companies that are based and operating in the city.
The second smartest city in the U.S. is Los Angeles, California. This is followed by Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA and Atlanta, GA, which take the third, fourth and fifth ranks, respectively. Meanwhile, the rest of the top 10 smartest cities are Washington D.C.; Dallas, TX; New York City, NY; San Jose, CA and Portland.
The top-ranking European cities
The data from this study shows that overall, European cities tend to score lower on the smart-city criteria than the average US city. In Europe, the highest-ranking city is London. It scores especially high in the Technology Infrastructure and Connectivity and Green Infrastructure metrics. In fact, London has nine 5G towers installed, which was more than any other city examined in this study. Additionally, it has an average broadband speed of 82.7 megabytes per second, which is higher than that of 65% of the other cities analyzed in the data. However, it does tend to perform worse in the Tech-Driven Job Market category. Nevertheless, it still has an average of 49,800 tech job vacancies, which is roughly 56 openings per 10,000 residents.
In Europe, the second, third, fourth and fifth smartest cities are Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Lisbon, respectively. From these, the findings for Paris were particularly notable. It has especially high ratings in the Tech Infrastructure and Connectivity category, making it the highest-ranked city in this category overall. This is due to factors, including its 10,663 free public WiFi networks and the 258 IoT companies that are based in the city.
The second half of the list of the top 10 smartest cities in Europe features the capitals of five different countries. These cities are Oslo, Budapest, Dublin, Madrid and Helsinki, which rank from fifth to 10th place.
Overall, we have seen that several large cities across Europe and the U.S. are classified as highly smart cities. However, all of these cities still have room for improvement across the three primary categories. Through further technological developments in infrastructure and industry, these cities can become more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable while simultaneously boosting their economy.
Images via ProptechOS