Tokyo takes top spot in ‘safe city’ ranking

In an index ranking world cities on safety by order of their ability to handle everything from climate disasters to cyberattacks, the Japanese capital Tokyo emerged the victor, followed close behind by Singapore in second and Osaka, also in Japan, in third position.

The annual ranking, by the Economic Intelligence Unit of the Economic Times, showed there was no shift in the top three positions over the past three years.

This year the index of 60 cities also took into consideration the concept of ‘urban resilience’, or the ability of cities to absorb and bounce back from shocks, both natural and mand-made. This concept has increasingly steered urban safety planning during the last decade, as policymakers worry about the impacts of climate change, including heat stress and flooding, as well as terrorist attacks. The index assessed four types of safety: digital, infrastructure, health and personal security.

Asia-Pacific dominated the top 10, as in previous years, with six cities, including Australia’s Sydney in fifth place, South Korea’s Seoul in eighth and Australia’s Melbourne in 10th.

Two European and two North American cities made it into the top 10, with the Dutch capital Amsterdam in fourth place while Denmark’s Copenhagen came eighth. Canada’s Toronto came sixth, and the US capital, Washington D.C., emerged seventh.

Nigeria’s Lagos, Venezuela’s Caracas, Myanmar’s Yangon, Pakistan’s Karachi and Bangladesh’s Dhaka were the world’s five least safe cities, according to the index.

The safest cities scored highly on access to high-quality health care, dedicated cyber-security teams, community-based police patrols and good disaster planning, researchers said. While European cities performed well in the area of health, they struggled with digital security, in terms of citizens’ ability to freely use the Internet and other digital channels without fear of privacy violations or identity theft.

Top-ranking cities for digital security scored high on citizen awareness of digital threats and dedicated cyber-security teams, leading to low levels of infection by computer viruses and malware.