While first world cities once again led the Networked Society City Index 2016, Johannesburg showed encouraging signs of improvement, along with some other emerging market cities.
Ericsson once again named Stockholm as the top-ranking city in the Index, followed by London, Copenhagen, Singapore and Paris.
The index measures the performance of 41 cities from around the world from two perspectives: sustainable urban development and ICT maturity.
Although starting at a low level, Johannesburg and Lagos are progressing in all ICT dimensions of the index which includes infrastructure, affordability and usage.
Stockholm is ranked number one in the sustainable urban development part of the index, closely followed by Copenhagen, Helsinki and Paris. London ranks top in the ICT part of the index, replacing Stockholm, which now ranks second before Singapore on third place.
Lagos is ranked in a category of better performing cities from an environmental standpoint. Cities in this category perform well with regard to CO2 emissions and energy usage per capita but experience high levels of pollution.
Cities that have noticeably moved up the Networked Society City Index 2016 ranking, compared with the 2014 index, include Barcelona, Istanbul and Jakarta. However, Hong Kong, Moscow and Dubai dropped in the ranking.
In general, cities with low ICT maturity tend to mature faster than cities with higher ICT maturity, which indicates the presence of a catch-up effect.
Other highlights from the Networked Society City Index 2016 include:
* There is a positive correlation between social and economic development and increasing ICT maturity.
* ICT is not only critical to socioeconomic progress, but can help decouple this progress from an increased environmental footprint in favor of more sustainable development.
* ICT infrastructure in Johannesburg is developing rapidly, and the municipality is investing in new infrastructure to ensure affordable high-speed broadband throughout the city. Today, Johannesburg’s relative strength lies in its mobile broadband quality, which is above the index average.
* Smart city planning will be critical to achieving several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For example, cities will be instrumental for the advancement of climate action, poverty reduction, better health and education, as well as improved social and financial inclusion.
* A number of actions are essential for cities to go beyond smart cities of today and become more sustainable: including ICT as a basic infrastructure in the investment plans; creation of enabling regulatory environments that encourage the adoption of ICT; holistic approaches to integrating ICT across various sector planning, such as transport, energy and public safety; and collaboration between cities.
* Although Lagos faces several challenges related to ICT infrastructure, the results for Internet usage and electronic payments are better, but still remain well below the index average
Erik Kruse, head of the Ericsson Networked Society Lab, says: “UN-Habitat estimates that 70% of the world’s population will reside in urban areas by 2050. Many smart city initiatives to date have mainly used ICT to optimise existing systems and behaviours, for example, intelligent transport.
“Instead, cities need to rethink existing structures to fully grasp the potential of ICT to make sure that ‘smart’ is in fact sustainable. The future Networked Society city is characterized by resiliency, collaboration, participation and mobility, which are essential for ensuring our cities are attractive, sustainable and vibrant places.”