Zurich Tops 2023 IMD Smart City Index


Zurich has taken the lead in this year’s IMD Smart City Index, with Oslo in second place and Canberra in third.

The Index, produced by The Smart City Observatory, part of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, differs from others by being citizen-centric.

It combines hard data and survey responses to show the extent to which technology is enabling cities to address the challenges they face to achieve a higher quality of life for their inhabitants.

Asian and European cities dominate the top 20, out of 141 cities studied. Out of this ‘top 20’, six cities have been continuously improving their performance since 2019. These so-called “super-champions” in the Index’s report are Zurich, Oslo, Singapore, Beijing, Seoul and Hong Kong. The 2023 findings also demonstrate the increasing “smartness” of second-tier cities such as Montreal, Denver, Lausanne and Bilbao.

Some 20,000 citizens were surveyed about 15 aspects of living in their cities; they were asked which were the most urgent, from affordable housing and road congestion to fulfilling employment and green spaces. They were also asked about various structures and technologies in a bid to determine whether tech-based solutions are effectively addressing their major concerns. Finally, they were asked how comfortable they felt with technologies such as face recognition and sharing personal data to improve traffic congestion.

“The global landscape of smart cities is changing,” said IMD’s Bruno Lanvin, President of the Smart City Observatory. “Cities and their leaders are becoming more visible on the international stage, and citizens are increasingly valuing inclusion and diversity in the places they choose to live.”

The Index can serve as a valuable benchmark for progress on openness, innovation, inclusivity and sustainability. “A new world is shaping up, and changes at the city level are a precious indicator of what the future may hold. Openness and inter-city collaboration may become key components of the next wave of globalization,” said Lanvin.

This year, the Seoul-based World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO) is partnering with IMD to formally recognize efforts in smart city development by awarding a new prize, the Seoul Smart City Prize, in September. The prize is designed to promote an innovative and inclusive smart city model that looks after underprivileged groups in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Among the 141 cities studied in the Index – which is 20% more than in the 2019 edition – 26 of WeGO’s member cities were evaluated.

“IMD’s Smart City Observatory and WeGO are making great strides towards this becoming the leading smart city index and providing support to cities across the globe. The Index opens access to WeGO’s network of member cities towards enhanced city assessment and contributes to future research and development,” said Secretary General of WeGO, Jung Sook Park.

This year’s Index reflects citizens’ real experience of living where they do thanks to the directly sourced city-level data from the Global Data Lab’s Human Development Index (HDI), used instead of country-level data. It measures life expectancy, expected years of schooling and the mean years of education completed, as well as the per capita income of a city’s citizens.


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