While COVID-19 posed significant hurdles to cities worldwide, it also accelerated a wave of innovation that will continue after the crisis, shows the new “Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World” study. The ESI ThoughtLab research, sponsored by Oracle, Deloitte, Intel, and others, underscores the vital role technology, data, cybersecurity, and public-private partnerships play to ensure a healthy, safe, and prosperous future for citizens in the wake of the pandemic.
The research, conducted in August and September 2020, included a survey of senior officials from 167 cities across 82 countries, including in Asia, North and Latin America, MENA, Europe, and Africa. The cities represented 526 million people or 6.8% of the world’s population and ranged in size from less than one million inhabitants (39% of the cities) to nearly 27 million. Fifty-three percent of those metropolises are in emerging markets and 47% in developed countries. Cities were assessed and categorized based on progress in two categories: progress in applying smart solutions, with cities being classified as either “beginner,” “intermediate,” or “leader;” and progress on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with cities classified as either “implementer,” “advancer,” or “sprinter.” Cities that excelled in both areas are considered Cities 4.0—defined as hyper-connected cities that are both sustainable and well ahead in the use of technology, data, and citizen engagement.