Based on the results of the survey conducted by the IMD World Competi­tiveness Center and the Singapore University for Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore, Helsinki and Zurich have been selected as the top 3 “smartest” cities in 2020. Compared to last year, Budapest’s ranking improved six places. However, the Hungarian capital can still be considered an underdeveloped city regarding its health services, corruption of city officials and affordable housing options.

Although numerous research have been conducted on the topic of the ’smart city’, the Smart City Index is the only report offering a ranking based on specific data, Vg argued. The Institute for Management Development and the Singapore University for Technology and Design have examined 109 cities worldwide to provide a comprehensive image capturing the various dimensions of “smartness” viewed by the citizens.

SCI offers a global vision of the development of smart cities in all parts of the world, focusing on two major aspects: the existing infrastructure of the cities referred to as the “Structures” and the technological provisions and services available to the inhabitants under the category of “Technology”. The report also considers each country’s level of human development based on the “Human Development Index” (HDI) published annually by the United Nations.

The SCI’s uniqueness can be attributed to two key elements: it clarifies a concept that lacks a uniform and practical definition, and it relies mainly on the perceptions of those who live and work in the cities. In the report’s context,

a ‘smart city’ is defined as “an urban setting that applies technology to enhance the benefits and diminish the shortcomings of urbanisation for its citizens”.

The second edition of the IMD-SUTD Smart City Index Report was published on September 17, discussing how technology is playing a role in the COVID−19 era. Although it will take years to identify the more profound consequences of the current crisis, the economic and social crises are expected to intensify. The report argues that since digitalisation plays a pivotal role in the emergency responses to the pandemic, there is a correlation between smarter cities and those handling the pandemic better.

Cities that have systematised the use of smart city tools more permanently and have invested in economic recovery and environmental sustainability have a better chance to cope with the most damaging effects of the pandemic.

Consequently, the coronavirus crisis is expected to significantly increase the gap between cities that can utilise technology to manage the economic and social effects and the ones who cannot.

The podium positions were taken by Singapore, Helsinki and Zurich, followed by Auckland, Oslo, Copenhagen, Geneva, Taipei City, Amsterdam and New York. Rabat, Cairo, Abuja, Nairobi and Lagos ranked the lowest regarding the use of technological solutions to provide a “smarter” life for the citizens.

Although Budapest’s ranking improved six places, the Hungarian capital still belongs to the category of underdeveloped cities, ranking 77th out of the 109 examined settlements.

Considering its position compared to Wien, Bucharest and the Visegrád 4 capitals, Budapest placed 5th:

City                 Smart City Rank 2020

Wien               25.
Prague            44.
Warsaw           55.
Bratislava        76.
Budapest        77.
Bucharest        87.

Nonetheless, it has to be noted that since the results are based on the opinion of a relatively low number of respondents −120 people per city, regardless of the size of the settlement−, the survey does not provide an objective reflection on the cities’ technological preparedness.

In terms of infrastructure,

the majority of Hungarian respondents were the most dissatisfied with the health care system, air pollution, traffic jams and housing opportunities.

Budapest citizens also emphasised their concern about traffic congestion, the lack of online platforms where residents can propose ideas has improved city life and the corruption of city officials.

If you want to learn more about the topics of innovation, urbanisation and the ’smart city’, Bruno Lanvin President of the IMD Smart City Observatory will give a lecture in Hungary on October 27.

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