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Where are the 10 smartest cities in the world?

smartest cities in the world smartest cities in the world
Photo credit:

Mike Behnken

Hot Topics breaks down 10 of the smartest cities in the world.

Making a city ‘smart’ can improve the common problems that face most of the world’s major population centers.

Technology and big data can be used to ease congestion, improve public transport, healthcare, communication and much more.

Creating a smart city is a crucial step in keeping it efficient, reducing its costs and resource consumption.

On this list are 10 of the smartest cities in the world that have engaged with technology in innovative ways to solve issues from crime fighting, to energy conservation and emergency services responses.

Hong Kong

Thanks to a combination of great infrastructure – it ranked second in International Internet Bandwidth in the World Economic Forum’s Global I – and the Hong Kong Science Park, which supplies a vast amount of R&D space, Hong Kong consistently ranks as one of the smartest cities in the world.

One of the notable smart successes of Hong Kong is the Octopus card that is widely used for shopping, public transport, rapid immigration clearance and e-business transactions.

Sydney – Australia

Sydney used hosting the Olympics as an opportunity to develop more renewable energy solutions and become one of the smartest cities in the world.

The former Olympic village is now a 90-hectare development project with solar powered housing and a waste recycling system that helped re-use 90% of wood, brick and concrete used in the development.

Sydney is also home to the “Smart Grid, Smart City” project that is testing a range of smart city infrastructure and smart city technologies.

Santiago – Chile

In 2012 Chile was ranked in the top ten countries globally for highest number of sustainable buildings, and in recent years the city of Santiago has made a big effort to grow sustainably by introducing measures like electric public transport, smart homes where the appliances are controlled electronically for maximum efficiency and rapid charging facilities at service stations for electric vehicles.

Santiago is being forced to become one of the smartest cities in the world in part because of high-energy prices.

As Chile has to import all of its fossil fuels, electricity is at a premium, so cities such as Santiago are introducing energy saving LED lights and energy ratings on home appliances to help keep spending down for its citizens.

Copenhagen – Denmark

Scandinavia has gained a reputation for being green, and rightly so. Copenhagen has one of the smallest carbon footprints in the world and plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

Part of the reason behind this green success is Copenhagen’s commitment to cycling, evinced by the city’s collaboration with MIT to produce the Copenhagen Wheel, a smart bike that generates enough power under braking and down hills to make long cycle trips easier than ever.

Barcelona – Spain

Barcelona has been voted as one of the smartest cities in the world by a number of panels since 2012, and has been particularly impressive in the field of transport.

As well as designing an efficient bus network, Barcelona has a network of smart traffic lights that, amongst other things, provide ‘green light’ routes for emergency services that allows vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks faster passage to emergencies.

Nairobi – Kenya

The population of Nairobi has an extremely high proportion of mobile money and around 70% smart phone ownership, making it one of the smartest cities in the world. Fintech is at the forefront of the entrepreneurial economy as people look to move money around without the aid of traditional banks.

The government are focusing on ICT solutions more than ever, as well as creating innovation hubs, corporate partnerships with universities.

Stockholm – Sweden

Since the adoption of Vision 2030, Stockholm’s long-term strategy to make itself one of the “greenest, cleanest and most beautiful cities”, the city has been using technology to become more green.

This has included using IT-based systems to control heating, lighting and ventilation in its buildings, and Stockholm’s commitment to improving its energy efficiency using tech is impressive.

Stockholm lends itself to tech extremely well as a result of the Stokab dark fiber network that began development in 1994.

The dark fiber network (dark because more was created and laid than initially required to save costs later) has paid dividends in terms of encouraging tech developers to use Stockholm as their base, making it one of the smartest cities in the world.

Santa Cruz – USA

Santa Cruz uses technology to help reduce crime rates in the city.

Crime mapping has been around for a while (since the early 19th century to be exact) but Santa Cruz became one of the first US police departments to implement statistical analysis alongside advanced technology in its every day operations.

As a result, burglaries dropped 27% in the year after crime mapping was introduced. In terms of its approach to fighting crime, Santa Cruz is one of the smartest cities in the world.

Seoul – South Korea

Seoul, among many other smart features, has created Songdo, a purpose built smart town. Set to contain around 2 million people when it is finished (it’s around a third completed as things stand), Songdo will provide universal broadband, an integrated sensor network and innovative system that extracts kitchen waste directly to a treatment plant that will convert the waste into clean energy.


The Singapore Smart Nation project is a first of its kind.

As an island nation, with no natural resource, the country has always had to turn to innovation in a bid to ensure progress. Now with an ageing population and increasing urban density, Singapore hopes that through the Smart Nation initiative, technology will assist in easing the pressure on healthcare, public transport and energy systems in the country.

Singapore make’s its claim as one of the smartest cities in the world through its innovative use of water recycling, vitally important in a nation state with small water reserves, as well as its impressive Gardens by the Bay project, which houses a nature reserve in downtown Singapore including 18 massive artificial trees that do everything from act as a giant solar panels to collecting rainwater.