• Zurich retained the top spot for the fifth consecutive edition of the IMD SCI, with Oslo in second place and Canberra in third. Geneva is fourth, and Singapore is fifth, a study by the Institute for Management Development's (IMD) Smart City Observatory revealed.

KUALA LUMPUR (April 11): Kuala Lumpur edged up 16 notches to 73rd out of 142 cities in the world on the latest 2024 Smart City Index (SCI) by the Institute for Management Development's (IMD) Smart City Observatory. KL was ranked 89th last year.

Zurich retained the top spot for the fifth consecutive edition of the IMD SCI, with Oslo in second place and Canberra in third. Geneva is fourth, and Singapore is fifth, the study revealed.

Key findings from the report showed that KL was doing well in specific areas like online scheduling and ticket sales, which have made public transport easier to use; businesses that are creating new jobs; and online access to job listings, which has made it easier to find work.

However, the three most urgent priorities that respondents were most concerned about were affordable housing, road congestion and corruption/transparency issues for KL.

Smart City Observatory, which is part of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, also said Zurich, Oslo, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Beijing and Seoul were deemed "super champions”, and highlighted that another group of cities likely to join the super champions in the near future are Sydney, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tallinn and Riyadh. "This is because they have either stayed in the same position or edged up the ranking after starting from lower positions (21st to 40th)."

The 2024 SCI is the second report produced by Smart City Observatory in partnership with the Seoul-based World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO). Researchers combined hard data and survey responses from citizens in 142 cities worldwide to show how technology is enabling cities to achieve a greater quality of life for their inhabitants.

"Cities must design and adopt strategies that can resist the test of a future plagued with growing uncertainties," said Smart City Observatory president Bruno Lanvin in a statement on Thursday.

"Health-related concerns remain high, while climate-related ones grow even larger; a mix complicated by renewed international tensions. Trust and good governance are growing in importance, and the significance of artificial intelligence (AI) in city design and management is set to increase. Counterintuitive as it may sound, AI can help cities to become more human-centric."

This year's top 20 features more Asian and European cities, noted Smart City Observatory. US cities such as Washington DC, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago have been losing ground, as have Canada's Ottawa and Montreal, so for the first time since the SCI's creation in 2019, there are no North American cities in the Top 20, it added.

Lanvin said that last year, most US cities rose in the index but this year they have fallen. "Some explanation can be found in [US President Joe] Biden's Build Back Better, which had a positive effect. In contrast, this year elections are on the horizon, making people more critical about areas that need to be improved."

Smart City Observatory said the SCI has five years of data (there was a hiatus in 2022, while the methodology was improved upon), the 2024 edition allows for the calculation of moving averages, that is, the position of a city, on average, in the indexes that ran (a) from 2021 to 2023 and (b) from 2022 to 2024.

"These results will help policymakers to anticipate what might happen in the next three-year wave. They also bring to the fore two groups of high-performing cities that can serve as beacons," it added.

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