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Tokyo holds position as safest city in the world

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index 2019 ranks 60 cities across 57 indicators covering digital, health, infrastructure and personal security.

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Tokyo is top for digital security and appears in the top five for all four pillars
Tokyo is top for digital security and appears in the top five for all four pillars

Tokyo is the safest city in the world for the third year running, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Safe Cities Index 2019 (SCI2019).

 

Sponsored by NEC Corporation, the index ranked 60 cities across 57 indicators covering digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security.

 

Multifaceted nature of urban safety


The index aims to reflect the multifaceted nature of urban safety, with indicators divided into the four distinct pillars. The 2019 version benefits from a major revision designed to better measure urban resilience, examining, for example, disaster-risk informed development policies.

 

The report, written by Paul Kiestra and edited by Naka Kondo and Chris Clague, reveals that Asia-Pacific cities make up six of the top 10, but that the geographic region does not have a statistical link with results. Findings from the index were supplemented with wide-ranging research and in-depth interviews with experts in the field.

 

Other cities in the top 10 include Singapore (2nd), Osaka (3rd), Sydney (5th), Seoul (tied 8th) and Melbourne (10th). Europe is represented by Amsterdam (4th) and Copenhagen (tied 8th), while from America and Canada Toronto is sixth and Washington, DC seventh.

 

The results in individual index pillars show the importance of getting the basics right and the EIU said a look at the top five cities in each pillar yields a similar message.

The different kinds of security covered by the index require distinct interventions, often by different agencies or actors

In each area, leading cities got the basics right, be it easy access to high-quality healthcare, dedicated cyber-security teams, community-based police patrolling or disaster continuity planning. Even among the leaders, the weaknesses of those not in first place tended to vary from city to city. Those who want to improve need to get the basics in place and then consider their own specific situations.

 

“City safety is indivisible”

 

EIU also highlights that, despite having many elements, “city safety is indivisible”. The different kinds of security covered by the index require distinct interventions, often by different agencies or actors, such as health systems for medical care and police for public order.

 

Amid this diversity, though, statistical analysis of the SCI2019 results shows that performance in each of the pillars correlates very closely with that in every other. In short, EIU said that cities tend to do well, middling or poorly across every security pillar rather than having good results in one and lagging in others.

 

SCI2019 results are not evenly spread but have a large number of cities clustered at the top, with the rest showing much more variation in scores. Just 10 points separate the overall scores of the top 24 cities, while the following 36 are over 40 points apart.

 

This does not mean that the differences in the leaders’ group are unimportant. Instead, on a scale that can measure every index city, the large group of top cities are much more similar to each other than to those lagging behind, said EIU.

“The more surprising contribution to this correlation is that, across our index, those cities with less wealth also tend to lack policy ambition"

Other key findings include that higher income sets apart those with better results, but in ways that are less than obvious. The index scores correlate strongly with average income in the cities.

 

“In part this reflects the need to invest sometimes substantial amounts in certain areas essential to security, such as high-quality infrastructure or advanced healthcare systems,” said EIU in the report. “The more surprising contribution to this correlation is that, across our index, those cities with less wealth also tend to lack policy ambition.

 

"As one interviewee told us, the biggest challenges facing Sub-Saharan African cities reflect a lack of effective planning and management. Low-hanging (or at least relatively low-cost) fruit exist, which all cities that have not already done so should attempt to harvest. Doing so requires focus and perseverance.”

 

The index was devised and constructed by Vaibhav Sahgal and Divya Sharma Nag. For the full index and findings, go to Safe Cities Index 2019

 

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