Where are the World’s Smartest Cities?

Tracker recently investigated whether or not smart cities could be the answer to the UK’s problem when it comes to achieving net-zero. We delved into what defines a smart city, what smart cities have got to do with the UK’s sustainability goals, and what smart cities can successfully offer, analysing the introductions to metropolises such as Dublin, Oslo, and Toronto.

In this article, we will explore the globe for the cities that are considered the smartest. Looking at what changes they’ve made in order to get to such a position, and what they’re GDP – one true measure of innovation- currently looks like.

In order to give an accurate picture of how smart a city is, we’ve analysed data from the IMD Smart City Index from the past three years.


It should come as little surprise that the city-state of Singapore, the first nation to earn the title of “smart nation”, has cemented its place as the world’s smartest city three years in a row.

For a considerable amount of time, Singapore has been recognised worldwide as one of the top three smart cities. Measuring some 721 kilometres squared, the South-East Asian state has been labelled as a laboratory of innovation; a place where all cars are expected to be self-driving by 2025, and 80 per cent of residents will be less than 10-minutes walking distance away from a subway station by 2030.Investment in sustainable infrastructure is constant.

Singapore is actively becoming a hub for technological genius, with futuristic projects of aerial drones delivering packages and big data projects controlling road safety, just two examples of planned government investment.

Singapore’s GDP in 2020: 57,797 US$


In the Smart City Index, Zurich has consistently ranked within the top three over the past three years, with the Swiss city receiving particularly high scores when it comes to recycling, public safety, and medical services – much like Singapore, and Oslo, which ranked third, Zurich’s impressive performance is due to their outstanding transport system. “A prerequisite of a smart city is a smart administration that allows good ideas to emerge and innovative projects to be implemented. Smart City Zürich supports innovation within the administration with the intrapreneurship program with seed money for pilot projects and with innovation fellowships that bring external expertise into the administration‘s work.” StadtBox

LoRaWAN (The Long Range Wide Area Network) collects data throughout the city and runs projects that tackle the challenges faced by Zurich in terms of air quality, water management, and parking.

Zurich GDP in 2020: 95,620 US$


As you can see from the table above, Oslo’s position on the Smart City Index has certainly fluctuated over the course of the past three years but it has remained a stalwart within the top five, securing its position as the world’s third smartest in the most recent rankings.

Oslo calls upon a host of information and communications technologies alongside Internet of Things solutions to successfully develop key areas and districts throughout the city. Investment has been geared towards “city governance, citizens’ services, energy management, waste management, urban mobility, education, industry development, welfare and health care, and other community services.”

Across the city, “sensors collect data needed to automatically control lighting, heating and cooling”, helping to improve the energy efficiency of buildings dramatically.

Oslo has become renowned as an ‘excellent test lab for smart, green transport solutions’ with the greater Oslo region detailing that all its mode of transports will be emission free by 2028. [is this the same link? Just need once]

Oslo GDP in 2020: 87,011 US$

Other standouts

In Helsinki, Finland, most recently ranking 6th overall, a ‘Whim’ titled application involves the connectivity of public transport to bikes, cars, and taxis to ensure a more efficient method of trip planning – not only can this limit emissions, but it can also successfully enhance speed.

Copenhagen, meanwhile, is rightfully earning its place at the top table thanks to its smart capabilities when it comes to the smart city start up scene. The Danish capital has become known as a breeding ground for smart city start-ups and claims that it is Europe’s easiest place to do business thanks to “flexible labour market regulation, highly qualified talent, favourable taxation, fast establishment procedures, and virtually no corruption.”

It’s clear to see that smart cities will play an important role in the future of the global city. As we’ve mentioned before, urban populations are growing at rapid rates and an effective solution to limit the negative impacts is required. Considering the average world GDP per capita in 2020 was $10,926, and the average of our top three ‘smart cities’ was $80,809, there’s a strong case to investing in smart could certainly be the solution that we’ve all been looking for if we’re thinking about tangible benefits.

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