Digital Cities Index: Toronto outpaces 19 others

Toronto placed a respectable 11th out of 30 cities examined in the Digital Cities Index 2022 (DCI), an inaugural ranking produced by Economist Impact and supported by NEC that is based on findings around four major themes – connectivity, services, culture and sustainability.

The study, released last week, found that Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Beijing, London, and Seoul, “performed the best, with successful open data projects and major strides in smart technology-powered sustainability projects like utility management.”

Meanwhile, Copenhagen and Singapore were the most connected cities, followed by Zurich, Beijing and Sydney.

Ritu Bhandari, manager of policy and insights at Economist Impact, said in a release that “the index highlights how outlier cities are leveraging technology to improve quality of life for millions of citizens around the world.

“While we see strong leadership from cities in Western Europe, the table is led by major cities from a wide geographical spread. The significant improvements were delivered against tightly defined goals – a critical success factor for urban digital transformation.”

Key findings revealed that:

  • Cities are 5G-ready, but rollout needs to be comprehensive to enable the full realization of intelligent cities: The DCI cities overwhelmingly recognize and support 5G, with all but one having a strategy in place either in a national or local initiative.
  • Singapore leads the “world in e-government services for residents and businesses due to a mobile digital national ID card program and a comprehensive e-government service portal for residents and businesses.”
  • Cities are embracing the health benefits of digital: “The DCI measures city healthcare performance across three indicators: the presence and adoption of telehealth and telemedicine, electronic health records and pandemic-related applications. The majority of cities scored above 75, indicating a broad-based application of digital health tools to support urban well-being.”
  • The Atlantic nations lead in open data innovation:“European and North American cities dominate the DCI in terms of open data access and use policies, which cover the publishing and usage of data for accountability, innovation and social impact. London, Toronto, Paris, Dallas, New York, and Washington, D.C. occupy the top five rankings.”

A key criticism revolves around what authors of the report describe as the “connectivity gap. In many cities in the DCI, connectivity levels are too low or limited to allow for comprehensive digital transformation, with half of the cities scoring below 70 out of 100. Unaffordable, unreliable, or inaccessible Internet services will impact many city-level goals.”

An example of that is Toronto, the only Canadian city on the DCI, which scored a respectable 70.1 mark out of 100 for its overall smart city efforts, yet when it comes to connectivity, that figure dropped to 62.8, which is a full 9.4 points less than the average of 72.2 among the 30 cities.

The results were much better for the city when it came to its sustainability efforts.

“Sustainability brought the highest overall scores in the DCI, with Copenhagen and Seoul and Toronto scoring at least 90 out of 100 for their use of digital technology to support urban sustainability – higher scores than achieved in any other pillar,” authors of the report noted.

“Digital capabilities including AI, sensors, and the IoT can all improve energy and resource efficiency across core city utilities such as water, electricity, lighting and waste management.”

As far as the top 10 cities are concerned, four are in Europe (Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London and Paris), four are in Asia Pacific (Beijing, Seoul, Sydney and Singapore) and the remaining two are in the U.S. (New York and Washington, D.C.).

Toronto, with its overall score of 70.1, missed the cut by only one-tenth of a point; Paris posted 70.2.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. His work has appeared in a number of technology magazines and online with the subject matter ranging from cybersecurity issues and the evolving world of edge computing to information management and artificial intelligence advances.

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