It’s no secret that the world is developing at an astounding rate and urbanization far exceeds the predicted expectations. More than half of the world’s population today reside in cities and this number is expected to grow to 68 percent by 2050. Developing countries move ahead rapidly in this scenario but sometimes they’re unable to cope with the challenges that urbanization brings. Providing security for its citizens is one of the biggest challenges these countries face. Predictably, the safest cities in the world rank high in the human development index which automatically translates into better security.
So how does one know which are the safest cities in the world? Every year The Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by NEC Corporation updates the Safe Cities Index (SCI) that answers the question of which are the safest cities in the world. This benchmarking tool not only measures the crime on the streets but has a broad range of security inputs and results. There are four distinct areas that the SCI focuses on that include digital, infrastructure, health and personal security. In the latest index, a new measure was introduced; that of ‘urban resilience,’ an indication of how quickly a city could get back on its feet after a shock.
Cities that topped the list in the four areas showed a leading trend throughout, an indication that they have their basics in place. Whether it’s easy access to quality healthcare, cyber-security, community-based police patrolling, or readiness for disasters, the top safest cities in the world tick all the right boxes. While some of the safest cities lie in Asia, this trend has nothing to do with geography but the ability of these countries to aptly cater to its citizens’ needs. This list of the safest cities in the world is a great reference point for ardent travelers.
Los Angeles, United States
Los Angeles sits at no. 17 on the list of safest cities in the world with an overall score of 85.2. The city does well in terms of Digital Security tied in fifth place with San Francisco with a score of 91.4. It also posts a high score in Infrastructure Security with 92.2. However, Health Security and Personal Security are two areas where it falters when compared to cities in the top 10.
Although it has a relatively high score of 81.3 in Personal Security, it occupies the 32nd spot. In Health Security it only scores 75.8. Nevertheless, on the security index, 75 and above is a very high score so even though some of its parameters may seem low, it’s pretty good.
The only German city to make it to the top 20 in the safest cities in the world rankings is Frankfurt, with a score of 85.4. Not surprisingly, Germany’s financial capital sits high at sixth place on Infrastructure Security with an impressive score of 93.7. Personal Security in Frankfurt is pretty good too at 87.7 while Health Security is also ranked sixth. The area where it loses out to the top safest cities in the world is Digital Security, coming in at 21 with 78.9.
New York City, United States
Some readers may be quite surprised to see New York so high up on rankings of safest cities in the world but it does pretty well on several parameters. Although it sits lower than Milan or Beijing in the Personal Security rankings at 30, it does fairly well in Infrastructure Security with a score of 92.5.
One thing you can be sure of in this amazing city is Digital Security with New York occupying the eighth spot with a score of 91.1. When it comes to Health Security, like its other American counterpart on the list, New York has a lower score of 76.1. After taking all these parameters into account, New York has an overall safety score of 85.5, which is hardly a point 2 difference from London at 85.7.
London, United Kingdom
Lately, London featured quite high on the terrorism radar and may not feel like one of the safest cities in the world. Despite this, however, it sits eight places higher than New York on Personal Security with a score of 84.3. London also features in the top ten cities on Digital Security with 90.2. Although it’s placed 19 on Infrastructure Security, it still has an impressive score of 90.4 in that area.
London scores only 78 in Health Security but has an impressive record with regards to Mental Health. According to the Safe Cities Index, London police work hard to find care for mentally unstable persons who would’ve otherwise ended up in jail. This translates into less crime on the streets.
San Francisco, United States
San Francisco’s location on the San Andreas faultline may make it prone to earthquakes but that does not seem to hamper its Infrastructure Security. With a score of 91.7 in this area, it sits much higher than Dubai or Zurich. Another area where San Francisco impresses is Digital Security, with the city tying with Los Angeles for fifth place. In terms of Personal Security, the city doesn’t fare too bad either, with a score of 83.3. It surpasses New York by just one point in Health Security with 77.1.
In terms of Personal Security, Stockholm is right up there on the list of safest cities in the world, with a ranking of six and a score of 91.3. It performs fantastically on Health Security too, sharing the fourth spot with Amsterdam. Where it loses out to other safe cities is in Infrastructure Security and Digital Security. Although it scores pretty well in these areas, with 87.5 and 85.5 respectively, it ranks a little lower than the top cities.
The fourth city in the United States to feature on the list of safest cities in the world is Chicago, with a score of 86.7. In terms of Digital Security, it surpasses its counterparts by claiming the third spot with a score of 92.9. There is a marginal difference with regards to Health Security and Personal Security, but what it does better than most other American cities is Infrastructure Security. Its safety standards on this front place it at the 11th spot with a score of 93.
It’s not all that surprising that a city that ranks as one of the happiest cities in the world, occupies the top ten spot on safest cities in the world too. Safety and contentment go hand in hand, a fact that the Safe Cities Index highlights.
Infrastructure security is where Melbourne does exceptionally well with 93.5 and a ranking of 7. With regard to Personal Security, it scores 86.8 and 89.4 in Digital Security. It ties with two European countries and one Australian country in Health Security with 79.3.
Seoul, South Korea
Asia-Pacific fares really well in the list of safest cities in the world, with many of the cities in the top spot. This, however, has nothing to do with the geographical location or cultural differences, as the index points out. These cities are safe because of the urban environments that officials and residents have built. Seoul shares the eighth spot in the overall rankings with Copenhagen.
With an overall score of 87.4, Seoul is marginally better than Melbourne with 87.3. However, the area where Seoul outshines most other cities is in Health Security where it sits at number three in the rankings. The city scores well in Infrasture Security too, with 92.4. In Personal Security it ranks 15 with a score of 87.5.
Copenhagen may be tied at the 8th spot with Seoul in the overall rankings of what are the safest cities in the world, but it races to the top in Personal Security. The runner up in this area, just behind Singapore, Copenhagen gets full marks for policing-related indicators. Community-based police patrolling helps keep crime in check, adding to the safety of the city.
The city does reasonably well in the other areas too. However, it’s the city’s Personal Security and resilience that puts it in the top 10.
Washington, D.C. United States
The United States’ capital city, Washington D.C, fairs exceptionally well in Digital Security, sitting in fourth place. No surprises there though, as the capital probably has plenty of sensitive information that it needs to keep secure. Washington has a much better showing in Health Security than its counterparts ranking a close seventh, just slightly below Frankfurt. Infrastructure Security is good too at 93.1 but on the Personal Security front, it ties with Shangai at no. 23.
Toronto’s security levels across all parameters are quite steady which adds to its overall score of 87.8. However, Personal Security and Digital Security are two areas where it performs exceptionally well with an average score of 90.7 in these two areas. In the area of Infrastructure Security, it sits at the same spot as New York but falls below London in Health Security.
Sydney is the second Australian city to feature in the rankings of what are the safest cities in the world. Given that it is Australia’s most populous city, the results are quite surprising. Like it’s contemporary on the list, Sydney has also often featured in the top 10 most livable cities in the world. This probably indicates why the city is such a safe place to live in. The Safe Cities Index does highlight the fact that the safest cities also have other parameters that contribute to making it safe.
Sydney does significantly well across all parameters, tying with Melbourne in three areas. The area in which Sydney outperforms Melbourne is in Personal Security where it sits six places higher than its contemporary with a score of 89.1.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
When it comes to resilience and preparedness for future shocks, Amsterdam scores a whopping 99.2. This coupled with its impressive showing in Health Security is what has given the city a boost to the top of the rankings. It sits in fourth place in health because like the others at the top, it gets the basics right. In areas such as the speed of emergency services, healthcare access and quality, and safe food and water, the city ticks all the right boxes.
Amsterdam also does really well on Personal Security with a score of 89.4. Although Amsterdam performs much better than its European counterparts in Digital Security and Infrastructure, it is outperformed by the American cities on the list.
Osaka is one of two Japanese cities sitting right at the top of the rankings of the safest cities in the world. This is because of its commitment to its citizens and not because of its culture or geographical location. The city’s residents and officials have focused on building urban environments that ensure overall safety.
Osaka reigns supreme in the area of healthcare with a score of 88.5. It comes in a close runner up in Infrastructure Security with 94.5 and is also in the top 10 in Personal Security. Where it narrowly misses out on the top 10, is in Digital Security.
Singapore City, Singapore
Over the years Singapore has added many superlatives to its kitty in world rankings. It features at the top of the cleanest cities in the world and the most expensive cities in the world. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Singapore adds one more feather to its cap. With an overall score of 91.5, Singapore is the second safest city in the world.
In terms of Personal Security, it sits right at the top of the rankings with 95.3. The city of swanky buildings also reigns supreme in Infrastructure Security with a whopping 96.9. Across the board, Singapore has an impressive score.
Tokyo emerges as a clear winner in the list of safest cities in the world, sitting at the top five of the rankings in all areas. The city is number one in Digital Security with a more than impressive score of 94.4. With 91% of the population having access to the internet this score is pretty impressive. You can be sure that your computer will be free of viruses and malware in Tokyo.
In Health Security it ranks just below Osaka by one point and is at the 4th place in terms of Infrastructure and Personal Security.