Johannesburg is the top sub-Saharan African city on the Networked Society City Index and makes a respectable showing at number 22 overall.
The index, established through a joint study conducted by Ericsson and management consultancy Arthur D Little, shows that cities with a high level of ICT maturity are better able to manage issues such as environmental management, infrastructure, public security, health-care quality and education.
Erik Almqvist, director at Arthur D Little Nordic, says: "Building a networked society is one of our time’s great challenges for mankind. Although this analysis should be seen as a humble starting point to explore the link between ICT investments and sustainable development, it is our joint hope and intention that this report can serve as inspiration for cities that do not settle for the status quo."
The three best-performing cities presented in the index – Singapore, Stockholm and Seoul – have successfully met many social, economic and environmental targets by making extensive investments in ICT. Singapore, for example, is aggressively driving innovation in e-health, and is a pioneer in traffic-congestion management. Stockholm sees ICT as a major enabler for research collaboration and knowledge transfer, while Seoul is using ICT to realise green high-tech initiatives.
The index also suggests actions for low-ranking cities, which are encouraged to provide digital access and ICT training for the underprivileged parts of their populations to reduce the digital divide.
Mathieu Lefevre, executive director of the New Cities Foundation, says: "The networked city is here and it will significantly impact the life of a growing share of the world’s population. Ericsson has grasped the significance of this mega-trend, and is positioned at the forefront of thinking on tomorrow’s urban connected planet."
Today, more than 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2030, that is expected to grow to about 60%. The number of megacities (defined as cities with 10-million inhabitants or more) is expected to rise to more than 30 by 2030, representing an increase of about 4%. As the number of megacities rises, key decision makers will be better able to ensure that this growth is sustainable if they can learn from the successes of top-performing cities in the Networked Society.
Erik Kruse, from the networked society lab at Ericsson, says: “By providing examples of how ICT can promote a city’s growth, the index can be used to inspire dialog with decision makers to use ICT to enable organizational and societal success – from economic, environmental and social perspectives.”
The top-10-ranking cities in the Networked Society City Index are: Singapore, Stockholm, Seoul, London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Beijing.
Johannesburg is top-ranked in sub-Saharan Africa and is expected to move up the overall rankings from number 22 once the R1,2-billion City of Johannesburg Broadband Network Project is completed.
Lars Linden, CEO Ericsson Africa, says: “The City of Johannesburg Broadband Network Project is a great illustration of our vision of building a Networked Society in which 50-billion mobile connections will exist around the world by 2020 joining mobile phones, devices and machines and improving people’s lives.”