The winner’s podium of the world’s “smartest” cities is occupied by Tokyo, London and New York, respectively, according to the IESE Cities in Motion Index (ICIM), supervised by IESE’s J.E. Ricart and Pascual Berrone.

To establish this ranking, the researchers studied 135 cities based on 50 indicators along 10 different dimensions: governance, public management, urban planning, technology, environment, international outreach, social cohesion, mobility and transportation, human capital, and economy.


A global mix

Of the top 20 cities, 10 are European, six American, three Asian and one is Oceanian. Switzerland is the country with the best results overall, with three of its cities appearing in the top 10.

The list contains several paradoxical cases. For example, Tokyo is best for “human capital,” but it comes in 20th in terms of “the environment” and 125th for “social cohesion” — a dimension in which half of the world’s top 10 cities fall short. Barcelona is the city whose ranking has improved the most, moving from position 63 to 51 in just two years.

The search for smarter cities

There is no single model of success. To improve a city, the first step is to define the model to be followed and the areas in which the city should improve.

Yet it is not enough for a city to stand out in a single area or dimension: cities should strive to achieve acceptable minimum rates overall, as areas tend to be interrelated. For example, a city’s “mobility and transportation” models will have a bearing on “the environment.”

One of the main responsibilities of urban planners is to understand these links and determine the opportunities and threats posed by the national context.

Read more in IESE Insight