Zurich, Oslo, and Canberra are at the top of the latest Smart City Index by IMD Business School. Having surveyed about 20,000 people from over 140 cities, the index delves into technology and how it is used to tackle urban challenges. European and Asian cities dominate the top 20, and – quite surprisingly – the 2023 ranking has a significant number of medium-sized cities such as Lausanne, Munich, and Bilbao in high positions, showing a strong ability to improve and move up.
This reflects a meaningful shift in the general understanding of Smart Cities. When we started talking about Smart Cities more than a decade ago, local governments were mainly challenged by energy efficiency and cost saving, so digitalization and process automation were their top concerns. That was the time – back in 2011 – when Paradox Engineering introduced its first solution for the remote monitoring and control of urban services.
Today, sustainability continues to be a mandatory goal, but there is a pressing call to move beyond and build open and innovative communities. This is not merely a semantic change. The IMD report flags it is a change in the way Smart Cities are nowadays designed and managed: no more technology-centric urban conglomerates, rather human-focused communities where sustainability and inclusion play a much larger role.
It’s the time of carbon neutral and climate friendly cities, where equity and diversity are among the key benchmarks for success. All these dimensions are now part of smart strategies and variously linked to quality of life and the ability of engaging tourists, talents, and investors. Simply put, today being smart means more than pioneering advanced technology, and relates to city attractiveness.
Smart technology increasingly supports urban planning and management. That’s the direction our Smart Urban Network evolved over time: we integrated key vertical applications such as streetlighting, parking management, solid waste collection, environmental monitoring, and more. Above all, it has become the open, interoperable network platform for cities willing to start and accelerate their smart journeys.