What is the smart city of 2019?

A smart city is defined as a city that uses technology to transform infrastructures, fuels sustainable development and improves the quality of life of its citizens.

For the sixth consecutive year, the IESE Business School of Barcelona has published the updated edition of the City in Motion Index (CIMI). The institute has evaluated 174 cities in 80 countries. 79 of these are capitals.

This index measures how smart a city is by providing an objective, wide-ranging and holistic index that covers different key dimensions of a metropolis.

Cities are classified on the basis of a score obtained from 96 indicators related to 9 dimensions. These are:

  1. Human Capital: a smart city should be able to attract talent, create plans to improve education and promote creativity and research;
  2. Social Cohesion: concerns about the social environment of a city requires an analysis of factors such as immigration, the development of communities, the care of the elderly, the efficiency of the health system, security and social inclusion;
  3. Economy: includes all those aspects that promote the economic development of a region: local economic development plans, strategic industrial plans, innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives.
  4. Governance: looks at the level of participation in local government: the ability of the authorities to involve residents, company leaders and other local players and the implementation of e-Governance systems.
  5. Environment: improving environmental sustainability through generating plans to combat pollution, support green areas and promote alternative energy sources, promote efficient water management and implement policies that help combat the effects of climate change.
  6. Transport and mobility: includes facilitating movement through the cities, often over long distances and access to public services.
  7. Urban planning: to improve the “quality of life ” in any city it is necessary to focus on the design of green areas and spaces for public use, as well as committing to intelligent growth. New methods of urban planning must focus on creating compact and well-connected cities that have accessible public services.
  8. International outreach: means improving the “brand” of the city and its international recognition through appropriate strategic plans dedicated to tourism.
  9. Technology: information and communication technologies are part of the backbone of any city that wishes to define itself as smart.

The ranking

In 2019 London has achieved the top ranking. After three consecutive years in which New York ranked first, the British capital has now relegated the Big Apple to second place, followed by Amsterdam in third. In the table below you can find the top 10 cities.

Ranking City CIMI Score
1 London – UK 100.00
2 New York – USA 94.63
3 Amsterdam – Netherlands 86.70
4 Paris 86.23
5 Reykjavik 85.35
6 Tokyo 84.11
7 Singapore 82.73
8 Copenhagen 81.80
9 Berlin 80.88
10 Vienna 78.85


London ranks first thanks to a brilliant performance in most of the dimensions. In particular, the main strength of the city is its human capital. This is thanks to being the home to some of the best universities and business schools in the world; to having a population that is highly educated and to offering a wide choice of cultural attractive thanks to numerous museums, theaters and art galleries. The second strength of London is international outreach. London is in fact one of the cities with the highest number of passengers passing through nearby airports. The city has the largest number of air routes, a significant number of hotels and hosts many international conferences. The only low scores for the capital of the United Kingdom were in the dimensions of social cohesion and the environment.


New York

This year the Big Apple is in second place. The strength of the US smart city is the economy. The city has climbed the rankings in this dimension thanks to a high GDP and the presence of numerous listed companies. Its Achilles heel are the indicators of the social dimension. Here the city is positioned at the end of the ranking, in 137th place.


The Dutch capital rises to the third place. The city has achieved excellent results in recent years, climbing the CIMI rankings. The best performance was recorded in the dimension of international outreach. Amsterdam is, in fact, an active financial hub, a major trade center and an important tourist hub.

Cooperation is the key to transformation

Finding the right balance between the different dimensions is very complex. To create a smart city, collaboration between the various public and private stakeholders is needed. It is in fact from the co-operation of different ecosystems that value is generated for the city and the entire community.

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