The index measures the multifaceted nature of urban safety, with 76 indicators organised along five pillars: personal, health, infrastructure, digital, and environmental security.
Copenhagen is the world’s safest city, outstripping previous frontrunners Tokyo, Singapore, and Osaka, according to a new study.
Launched in 2015, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Safe Cities Index is updated biannually to determine which cities are the safest based on new criteria.
The index, which is the centre piece of a research project sponsored by NEC Corporation, ranks 60 cities worldwide across five continents. It measures the multifaceted nature of urban safety, with 76 indicators organised along five pillars: personal, health, infrastructure, digital, and – new this year – environmental security.
Copenhagen comes first, with 82.4 points out of 100, closely followed by Toronto follows with 82.2. In each of the previous three iterations of the index, Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka – always in that order – were the leaders.
EIU reports since 2019, the index framework has been subjected to an extensive re-evaluation and has undergone significant changes, including updates to existing indicators, updates to scoring methodology, addition of new indicators under existing domains and the addition of a new domain to the framework.
“The priority that urban residents and officials assign to environmental security has risen markedly as covid-19 serves as a stark warning of unexpected crises”
The introduction of the new pillar for environmental security in this year’s index reflects the increased importance of sustainability issues and climate adaptation measures amid the pandemic. Toronto and Copenhagen performed noticeably better in the new environmental security pillar than do any of the top-three cities from earlier years.
“Covid-19 is the first global pandemic to strike humanity since we became a predominantly urban species. Experts have told us Covid-19 has changed the whole concept of urban safety,” said Naka Kondo, senior editor of the EIU and editor of the SCI2021 report.
“Digital security is now an even higher priority as more work and commerce have moved online; those responsible for infrastructure safety have to adjust to dramatic changes in travel patterns and where residents consume utilities; agencies responsible for personal security need to address a large, lockdown-driven shift in crime patterns; and the priority that urban residents and officials assign to environmental security has risen markedly as covid-19 serves as a stark warning of unexpected crises.”
In all four editions of the index, six cities – Amsterdam (6), Melbourne (8), Tokyo (5), Toronto, Singapore (3) and Sydney (4) – have all figured among the leading 10, with only a few points separating them.
Research found that the performance of different safety pillars correlates very closely with each other, signifying that different kinds of safety are thoroughly intertwined.
The top performers in each pillar are as follows:
The Safe Cities Index also reveals that different global region have distinct strengths. In particular, well-off Asia-Pacific cities tend to perform better on average when it comes to health security and infrastructure security, while European cities on personal security and US cities on digital security.
Commenting on what makes Copenhagen such a safe city, Copenhagen’s lord mayor Lars Weiss point to its low crime rate, currently at its lowest level in more than a decade, as a key factor.
“Everyone should feel safe in Copenhagen, whether child or senior, male or female, LGBTI+ or part of any other minority. That is why we work continuously to improve safety for our citizens,” he said.
“Copenhagen is also characterised by great social cohesion and a relatively narrow wealth gap,” he added. “It is a mixed city where both the cleaning assistant and the CEO meet each other at the local supermarket and have their kids in the same school. This is one of the very cornerstones of Danish culture, and it contributes greatly to the high levels of trust and safety that we benefit from.”