Tools for a changing world

Cities of Opportunity 7 combines three indicator categories that best measure the “tools” cities need to deal with a world increasingly centered around skilled, professional work and connected physically and electronically—intellectual capital and innovation; technology readiness; and, city gateway, or global openness. Perceived as a group, city gateway unlocks a physical door to a fluidly interconnected world, technological readiness opens a digital portal to it, and intellectual capital and innovation nurtures the creativity and achievement that will drive a city’s future social and economic wellbeing. Five cities make the top 10 in all three indicators: London, New York, Tokyo, Amsterdam and Paris.

Intellectual capital and innovation

The intellectual capital and innovation indicator focuses on education and, secondarily, the innovation that a highly educated society generates. Intellectual capital, a cornerstone of the modern urban ecosystem, doesn’t “happen”: It develops. Similarly, innovation is not a commodity: It is a human process arising from an intellectual environment sparking ideas, spreading them among like minds, and supporting their growth—just the sort of chain reaction a great city is perfect to catalyze.

This is the story told by this year’s top 10 cities in intellectual capital and innovation. In descending order, London, San Francisco, Paris, Amsterdam and Toronto tied in fourth, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Sydney, and Stockholm and Chicago tied in tenth make up the list. Amsterdam, a new city this edition, joins the top 10.

"Governments should use their funds to develop a bottom-up innovation ecosystem geared toward smart cities. Policymakers must go beyond supporting traditional incubators by producing and nurturing the regulatory frameworks that allow innovations to thrive."

Carlo Ratti
MIT Senseable City Lab, Director

Technology readiness

Technology readiness, our second indicator, frames the technological potential of a really smart city—one that “uses digital intelligence to improve citizens’ lives,” as Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT Senseable City Lab, tells us. This indicator has undergone substantial revision, enhancement and expansion from four variables in last edition to six now. Specifically, we’ve broadened our approach to broadband quality. The score now measures quality (or connection reliability), speed (upload/download), and value (cost). Our three new variables are mobile broadband speed (which complements the broadband quality score), ICT usage, and digital security. Top 10 are Singapore, London, Amsterdam, New York, Stockholm, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Tokyo, Paris and Toronto.

City gateway

Our third category attempts to quantify a city’s global connections and attraction beyond its local borders and measures a city’s global draw to take the pulse of a city’s social, economic, and cultural magnetism internationally. The major story in comparing cities as gateways to world travel is that London remains first in this indicator by a clear difference. The other major story is Paris’s success, as the French capital rises five places from #7 in 2014 to #2 this year. The big difference here is that the city performs very well in our new variable, airport connectivity, outscoring most other cities.

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Rollie Quinn

Global Leader, Government & Public Services, PwC US

Hazem Galal

Cities & Local Government Sector Global Leader, PwC US

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