Two women pass the world’s first functional office building made using 3D printer technology in Dubai Image Credit: AP

Dubai: The UAE has two of the smartest cities in the region, according to a recent international study that examined 102 cities across the world.

The IMD World Competitiveness Centre’s Smart City Observatory, in partnership with Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), has released the first edition of the IMD Smart City Index 2019.

The global report ranked Dubai at 45th place, ahead of Seoul, Barcelona and Paris. The city of Abu Dhabi came in at 65th place, ahead of Shanghai and Tokyo.

Singapore was ranked as the smartest city in the world, followed by Zurich and Oslo in second and third place respectively. The remaining cities included Geneva, Copenhagen, Auckland, Taipei, Helsinki, Bilbao and Dusseldorf.

What is a smart city?

Smart Dubai is a government initiative to transform Dubai into the world's smartest and happiest city Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ GN Archives

The Smart City Index assesses a city’s efforts and success in embracing smart technologies to improve the lives of citizens, allowing the study to rate each city on a certain level of ‘smartness’.

Smart cities are growing fast

Abu Dhabi’s Smart Solutions and Services Authority which aims to transform the way residents interact with Abu Dhabi Government. Image Credit: GN Archives

Being a globally-recognized ‘smart’ city has its own benefits. It is critical for attracting investment and talent, creating a potential ‘virtuous cycle’ in favour of an advanced group of cities such as Singapore, Zurich and Oslo.

Smart cities also create an optimal environment for cities to experiment in critical areas. These areas range from urban planning, sustainable energy, and transport strategies to social integration and talent attraction.

“Smart cities are growing and blossoming in all parts of the world” said Professor Arturo Bris, Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre. He also explained that, “economic realities cannot be ignored: cities in poorer countries face disadvantages, which will require specific actions to correct along the path towards smartness,” and urged all cities to focus on becoming smarter.

How to make a city smarter?

Welcoming technology: Shaikh Mohammad meets ASIMO — the world’s most advanced robot — after opening the ‘Museum of Future Government Services’ in Dubai in 2015. Image Credit: WAM

According to the report, there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy in becoming a smart city: all three leading cities in 2019 score highly for their ‘structures’, which assesses how services are made available to citizens.

The quality of life, including environment, safety, access to health and education services, as well as mobility and social interaction, has also increasingly playing a more prominent role in citizens’ aspirations for smart cities worldwide.

For example, citizens from Chinese and UAE cities were found to be more comfortable with the use of their personal data, face recognition and overall trust towards local authorities than those in Geneva, New York and Paris.

The index further discovered that many technologies remain largely ignored by the populations they are claiming to serve, which is an area that requires improvement in many countries.

“Smart cities are becoming magnets for investment, talent and trade,” said Bruno Lanvin, President of the IMD’s Smart City Observatory at the IMD World Competitiveness Centre.

Smart City Index 2019

191006 smart city indec
Image Credit: IMD Smart City Index 2019