Copenhagen Edges Toronto And Singapore For Top Spot In Safe Cities Index

Singapore and Tokyo remain in the top five – third and fifth respectively – with Sydney coming in fourth and the 2021 edition of the index includes a new pillar for environmental security

Copenhagen Edges Toronto And Singapore For Top Spot In Safe Cities Index
Copenhagen, Denmark - Photo: Mik Hartwell

This year’s edition of the Safe Cities Index (SCI) from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) saw Copenhagen displacing Tokyo and Singapore from the top spot, with 82.4 points out of 100.

In each of the last three iterations, Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka – were always the index leaders in that order. 

In this fourth edition, Toronto follows Copenhagen closely behind with 82.2.

This change reflects not a tectonic shift but more a reordering among cities that have always come close to the top. In all four editions of the index, six cities – Amsterdam, Melbourne, Tokyo, Toronto, Singapore and Sydney – have all figured among the leading ten, with only a few points separating them.

The introduction of the new pillar for environmental security in this year’s index reflects the increased importance of sustainability issues and climate adaptation measures amid the pandemic. Toronto and Copenhagen performed noticeably better in the new environmental security pillar than any of the top-three cities from earlier years. Interestingly, the index also shows that leading middle-income cities do far better in this area than in any other categories. In particular, three at this income level finish in the pillar’s top ten: Bogota (4th); Rio de Janeiro (8th); and Kuala Lumpur (10th).

Research shows that the performance of different safety pillars correlates very closely with each other, signifying that different kinds of safety are thoroughly intertwined. The top performers in each pillar are as follows: 

Digital security: Sydney (1), Singapore (2), Copenhagen (3), Los Angeles / San Francisco (4), 

Health security: Tokyo (1), Singapore (2), Hong Kong (3), Melbourne (4), Osaka (5) 

Infrastructure security: Hong Kong (1), Singapore (2), Copenhagen (3), Toronto (4), Tokyo (5) 

Personal security: Copenhagen (1), Amsterdam (2), Frankfurt (3), Stockholm (4), Brussels (5) Environmental Security: Wellington (1), Toronto (2), Washington DC (3), Bogota (4), Milan (5)

The Safe Cities Index reveals that different global region have distinct strengths. In particular, well-off Asia-Pacific cities tend to perform better on average when it comes to health security and infrastructure security, while European cities on personal security and North American cities on digital security.

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