Manila has improved by two notches to 102 its ranking in the 2021 global Smart City Index.

Manila’s ranking in the 2021 IMD-SUTD Smart City Index

The 2021 IMD-SUTD Smart City Index (SCI) released Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, ranked 118 cities globally based on their citizens’ perceptions of how technology can improve their lives, as well as on economic and social data taken from the UN Human Development Index. It is the annual joint work of the Institute for Management Development (IMD) and the Singapore University for Technology and Design (SUTD) and is the third to be released.

In this year’s SCI, Singapore maintained its lead followed by European cities that dominated the top 4, with Swiss cities in the spotlight.

In the case of Manila, it has improved its ranking to 102 from 104 in 2020. It has also moved up in the Smart City Rating from D to C. The city got a C rating for both factors — structures and technologies. Manila is also categorized under Group 4.

Among the list of 15 indicators, survey respondents highlighted road congestion, corruption, air pollution, security, affordable housing, health services, public transport and basic amenities as the most urgent priority issues for the city of Manila.

Also, a high percentage of 85.7 percent of respondents are comfortable with the use of face recognition technologies to lower crime in the city.

Interestingly, 71 percent of respondents are willing to concede personal data in order to improve traffic congestion.

In addition, the survey showed that majority or 70.7 percent of Filipinos feel that the availability of online information has increased their trust in authorities.

Notably, the survey showed that more Filipinos are now using digital payments with 60.9 percent of payment transactions made by respondents are non-cash.

Globally, Singapore maintained its lead followed by Zurich and Oslo, with deep dive into the data showing how urban populations are attributing increasing importance to health and environmental-related dimensions of their cities ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study also noted that data indicated environmental concerns are comparatively higher in richer cities. Worldwide, the number one concern is access to affordable housing. However, the data also shows that access to better air quality and access to health services has become a greater priority in cities worldwide since the pandemic outbreak.

Some 15,000 city dwellers were surveyed globally in July 2021. They were asked 39 questions about how they feel their respective cities are doing across five key areas: health and safety; mobility; activities; opportunities (work and school); and governance. They were asked how technology is helping to address specific urban challenges with statements that included: ‘Recycling services are satisfactory’, ‘Public safety is not a problem’ and ‘Air pollution is not a problem’.

They were also asked to select five priority areas for their city from a list of 15, and asked four further questions to gauge their attitudes. For example, ‘Do you feel the availability of online information has increased your trust in authorities?’

The report also explained how, in all parts of the world, the rapid spread of COVID-19 among urban populations has led city leaders to face new responsibilities. This had been particularly visible in countries in which central governments proved slow or reluctant to take action. Often cities had proved more agile than central governments, with innovative approaches taken at the municipal level to organize the distribution of protective equipment, the use of available medical facilities, and vaccination campaigns, the study said.

Globally, the data also showed how in smart cities, the availability of a strong technological culture and good digital infrastructure has facilitated such initiatives, in particular through the tracing of citizens’ movements and contacts.

Globally, each region has its own leaders in the SCI, offering examples of how smart cities can help improve the value delivered to citizens, and become competitive hubs for investment and talent: New York City (12th) is leading in North America, Abu Dhabi (28th) leads the Middle East and Moscow (54th) leads Eastern Europe.

Source: Manila Bulletin (