23 December 2017
Safe Cities Index 2017: Security in a rapidly urbanising world
The paper analyses the results of the 2017 index, both overall and by each of the four categories: digital security, health security, infrastructure security, and personal security. Additional insight into the index results and urban safety, more generally, was gained through interviews with experts.
About the report
The Safe Cities Index 2017 is a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit sponsored by NEC. The report is based on the second iteration of the index, which ranks 60 cities across 49 indicators covering digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security.
The 2017 Safe Cities Index retains the four categories of security from the 2015 version— digital, health, infrastructure and physical. However, we have added six new indicators and expanded the index to cover 60 cities, up from 50 in 2015.
The index’s key findings include the following:
- As in 2015, Tokyo tops the overall ranking. The Japanese capital’s strongest performance is in the digital security category while it has risen seven places in the health security category since 2015. However, in infrastructure security, it has fallen out of the top ten, to 12th.
- In many cities, security is falling rather than rising: With two exceptions (Madrid, which is up 13 places and Seoul, up six), cities tend to have fallen in the index since 2015 (for example, New York is down 11 places, Lima is down 13, Johannesburg is down nine, Ho Chi Minh City is down ten and Jakarta is down 13)
- Asian and European cities remain at the top of the index: Of the cities in the top ten positions in the overall index, four are East Asian cities (Tokyo, Singapore, Osaka and Hong Kong), while three (Amsterdam, Stockholm and Zurich) are European.
- Asia and the Middle East and Africa dominate the bottom of the index: Dhaka, Yangon and Karachi are at the bottom of the list. Of the ten cities at the bottom of the overall index, three are in South-east Asia (Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta), two are in South Asia (Dhaka and Karachi) and two are in the Middle East and Africa (Cairo and Tehran).
- Security remains closely linked to wealth but the rankings of high-income cities are falling: While cities in developed economies dominate the top half of the index (with the lower half dominated by cities in poorer countries), of the 14 cities in high-income countries, the rankings of ten have fallen since 2015.
- Income is not the only factor governing city performance on security: Most of the cities in the top ten of the index are high-income or upper middle-income cities. However, two high-income cities in the Middle East (Jeddah and Riyadh) fall below position 40 in the index.
- America’s failing infrastructure is reflected in its cities’ rankings: No US city makes it into the top ten in this category and only San Francisco appears in the top 20. The top ten cities in this category are either in Europe (Madrid, Barcelona, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Zurich) or Asia-Pacific (Singapore, Wellington, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney).
- However, the US performs well in digital security: Of the cities in the top ten in this category, four are North American (Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Dallas).
1 The World’s Cities in 2016: Data Booklet, United Nations. Available at: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/pdf/urbanization/the_worlds_cities_in_2016_data_booklet.pdf
The results of the 2017 Safe Cities Index, which now covers 60 cities, again show a sharp divide in overall levels of safety between the fast urbanising developing world and the stagnant developed world. The top three cities in the index are unchanged from 2015, with Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka ranked first, second and third and still separated by mere tenths of a point. Likewise, the remainder of the top ten continues to be comprised of mainly Asian and European cities.
At the bottom of the Index is one of the ten new cities added in 2017: Karachi. Although it performs poorly across all of the categories, it was dragged down by a very low level of personal security (60th). This is a reflection of a number of factors, but the main reason is that among the cities in the index, it experiences by far the most frequent and most severe terrorist attacks. Jakarta, which ranked last in 2015, is 57th this year, pulled from the bottom by the addition of Karachi and other cities like Yangon and Dhaka.
23 December 2017
Safest cities, 2017. (out of 60 cities)
15. San Francisco
21. NYC 24.
Rome 32. Beijing
57. Jakarta (Economist)