These Are The World’s Smartest Cities

In the 2018 edition of the Future Today Institute’s annual emerging tech trends report, we wondered what makes smart cities “smart.”

What makes a city “smart?” In 2016, 78 cities applied for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Smart City” challenge, which would award the winner $40 million in federal grant money to upgrade their urban transit systems. DoT selected Columbus, Ohio, as the winner for its proposal to deploy self-driving electric shuttles, launch smart cards to provide free car-sharing services, and develop a connected traffic light system to reduce traffic jams throughout the city. The City of Melbourne (Australia) has launched a Smart City Office, which includes open data projects, a 24-hour pedestrian counting system and city-wide free public WiFi.

Public-private partnerships, affordable technology, long-term urban and budget planning, and equal access to all citizens are just a few things that make cities smart.


In our 11th annual Emerging Trends Report, the Future Today Institute analyzed cities and urban centers around the world to determine which are the smartest. Here’s a more complete list of the criteria we used in our research and analysis:

  • task forces, committees, and departments that are dedicated to longer-term strategic foresight and futures work
  • managers and cabinet-level staff who are focused on strategic foresight and futures work
  • government data that’s digitized and accessible
  • citizen data that’s anonymized, digitized and accessible
  • community leaders who are experts in tech
  • proactive cybersecurity staff dedicated to continuous learning
  • abundant 4G (and soon 5G) connectivity
  • smart grids for traffic and electricity
  • public transit systems optimized for riders
  • availability of car and bike-sharing services
  • public-private tech partnerships that benefit all income levels
  • environmental protections
  • clean energy options
  • long-term urban planning

These are the world’s smartest cities for 2018

For our 2018 Tech Trends Report, FTI analyzed the world’s most innovative cities, their technology hubs and their local governments. These are the cities that stood out as the world’s smartest. In alphabetical order…

  • Abu Dhabi
  • Amsterdam
  • Berlin
  • Boston
  • Copenhagen
  • Doha
  • Dubai
  • Geneva
  • Gothenburg
  • Hamburg
  • Helsinki
  • Hong Kong
  • London
  • Luxembourg
  • Melbourne
  • Montreal
  • New York
  • Osaka
  • Paris
  • San Francisco
  • Seoul
  • Singapore
  • Stockholm
  • Tallinn
  • Tel Aviv
  • Tokyo
  • Toronto
  • Vancouver
  • Zurich

Sources: United Nations, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, EasyPark Group, European Commission, USPTO, Pew Research Center.

Quantitative Futurist. 未来学者. Trends+strategy @FTI. Author THE BIG NINE + SIGNALS ARE TALKING. Prof @NYUStern. Cofndr @SparkCamp. Fellow @OxfordSBS @ACGeoTech

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