The best-positioned smart cities in the world ranking

IESE Cities in Motion is a research platform launched jointly by the Center for Globalization and Strategy and the Strategy Department of the IESE Business School of the University of Navarra.

The initiative connects a global network of city experts and specialized private companies with local administrations around the world. The goal is to promote change at the local level and develop valuable ideas and innovative tools that make cities more sustainable and smart.

The platform’s mission is to promote the Cities in Motion model through an innovative approach to city governance and a new urban model for the 21st century, based on four main factors: sustainable ecosystem, innovative activities, equity among citizens and connected territory. .

The Cities in Motion model evaluates cities from 9 dimensions to establish a world ranking and, in turn, elaborates an assessment of each city in each of the dimensions. The dimensions with which cities are analyzed are:

  • Human capital
  • Social cohesion
  • Economy
  • Governance
  • Environment
  • Mobility and transportation
  • Urban planification
  • Technology
  • International projection

Cities that occupy a prominent position, either in the general ranking or in any of the dimensions

Below are some of the best-positioned cities in the ranking and tables are shown with the evolution of each city in the general ranking , the dimensions in which it stands out for its performance, the position it occupies in the region and its classification according to the overall performance.

The bar chart shows the number of positions that the city would have to move up in each dimension to reach first place. This analysis offers the possibility of visualizing both the strengths and weaknesses of a city, identifying those dimensions in which it could work to improve its performance.


Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and the second best located in the ranking, where it ranks 26th. It was the pioneer Spanish city in the implementation of receptive technologies in urban systems such as public transport, parking, public lighting and waste management. It is one of the main cultural, economic and financial centers in Europe, as well as an important transport and logistics center. Barcelona is the leading Spanish city in terms of registered electric vehicles. A key factor in its success as a smart city is the great importance given to research, knowledge and innovation, which leads it to occupy fifth place in Europe and 18 in the world in scientific production.

The index highlights its performance in terms of mobility and transport dimensions, and urban planning, in comparison with other cities.


Basel is the second best-positioned Swiss city, ranking 21st in the general ranking and first in social cohesion. It has the Smart City Lab Basel space (, designed to test ideas, prototypes and services in the areas of logistics, mobility and others. This space connects partners from industry, science, administration and interested members of the general public, facilitating the exchange of skills and knowledge, fostering innovations and promoting mutual learning, to develop new ideas and projects for a smart Switzerland of the morning. The motto of the city is “Creating Tomorrow Together”. The inclusion of all its sectors in the development of the city is one of the reasons that position it as a leader in social cohesion.


The Swiss capital is ranked 31st in the general ranking and first in governance. Although it is not the economic center of the country, it is its political center.

The city is very committed to sustainability in various areas: environmental sustainability, reflected in its energy and climate strategy for 2025; and social and digital sustainability, supported by the development of open source software. Bern is carrying out different projects, such as the City-Logistik Thun-Bern, aimed at improving the possibilities of mobility and freight transport with respect to nearby towns, since, among some, there is a high level of mobility, and the project would help to improve access and facilitate transportation between them.

In addition to occupying the first position in the ranking of the governance dimension, it also performs very well in social cohesion.


Pakistan lies in the top-10 affected countries by global warming and is also considered by several international organizations for being the top-ranked country fighting climate change by taking solid green measures. Sky Marketing is a kind of real estate marketing company that also believes in the green development of housing projects that are also smart while decreasing the carbon footprint, such as Lahore Smart City .


The city of Hong Kong is an autonomous territory and one of the most influential in Southeast Asia. Its active and densely populated urban center is a major port and global financial center, with a landscape full of skyscrapers.

The Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint project aims to turn this metropolis into a world-class smart city. It seeks to make use of innovation and technology (I&T) to address challenges in the urban environment, city management and related to people’s quality of life. Likewise, it seeks to improve the attractiveness of Hong Kong for companies and global talents, prioritizing the sustainability, efficiency and safety of the city.

It is ranked 10th in the global ranking, being the model city in the technology dimension. It is also well positioned in the international projection dimension, where it reaches fourth place.


London, the capital and most populous city of the United Kingdom, constitutes the largest urban area in the country. Host more startupsand programmers than almost any other city in the world. The Smarter London Together project has been launched there, which aims to be a flexible digital master plan to make the city the smartest in the world. This roadmap establishes how to collaborate with the municipalities and services of the capital, from transportation to health services. Likewise, the project seeks to work more effectively with the technology community, universities and other cities. They envision the future of London as a “global testbed city” for innovation, where the best ideas are developed there with the highest standards of privacy and security, and from there spread to the entire world. The city has five missions: design, data exchange, connectivity, skills and collaboration.

It is a city well positioned in almost all dimensions: it obtains the first place in human capital and international projection, the second in governance and urban planning, and is within the top ten positions in the dimensions of mobility and transport and technology. – Nology. Their worst performance is reflected in the dimension of social cohesion.

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Los Angeles is promoting research and development in sustainability and data science, embracing technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the quality of life for its citizens. The metropolis faces challenges to urban functionality, such as traffic congestion, and environmental problems, such as pollution, climate change and the threat of natural disasters such as earthquakes. To meet these challenges, Los Angeles has become one of the first cities to adopt smart city solutions and is a testing ground for urban technology. It is working with universities and technology companies to improve services and take care of the environment, for example by facilitating recycling and waste disposal. Another goal is to increase your ability to attract business and innovation. In this sense, Los Angeles has been named America’s number one Digital City for the third year in a row, according to the Center for Digital Government. This city is a leader in innovation and the use of data to improve the lives of its inhabitants, for example, making transport more efficient and expanding green spaces.


It is the capital and the most populated city in Spain, as well as the first city in the country to appear in the general ranking, where it ranks 25. It stands out in the dimensions of mobility and transport (5) and international projection (11).

Madrid is committed to the development of a sustainable city. Its city council has presented in January 2020 an air quality plan called Madrid 360, which aims to provide the city with a total of 668 zero-emission and zero-cost buses.

Another of the fronts that the aforementioned plan will address is the limitation of the most polluting vehicles in the entire city, a process already started in January 2020. In addition, the municipal government has presented a line of aid for individuals to replace their current polluting vehicles by others with cleaner fuels. Another initiative to reduce the high level of pollution in the city is to pedestrianize the most central area, preventing the passage of all non-resident vehicles.


New York ranks second in the ranking globally, behind London, but enjoys leadership in the economy, mobility and transport and urban planning dimensions. It is a city committed to a large number of initiatives to position itself as a leader in all dimensions. The One NYC 2050 strategy presents the work plan to achieve this objective by 2050. Among others, the 80×50 project proposes an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by then. Another objective is to reach zero waste in the city by 2030 (project 0x30). In this sense, significant efforts are being made through reforms in residential waste management and incentives for companies to recycle as much material as possible and, in addition, to verify that this recyclable material is handled properly.

Social cohesion is the great outstanding debt of the city. In this sense, it also has a work plan aimed at guaranteeing health coverage for all New Yorkers by the year 2050, regardless of their economic or immigration status.


The City of Light is characterized by open innovation, granting its inhabitants and other actors control and access to the city’s data flows. Through the application of the IoT, it seeks to optimize the flows of people and vehicles in the city. In addition, he is working on the Paris Smart City 2050 architecture project, in which he plans to build buildings capable of generating renewable energy; bioclimatic and positive energy buildings to create the profile of a city that represents the symbol of the fight against climate change.

Paris is, along with London, one of the most important economic centers in Europe. It is one of the main tourist destinations worldwide, which is why it achieves second place in the international projection dimension. In the general ranking, it is ranked 3 and also stands out in the dimensions of mobility and transport (2), and human capital (6).


The most populated city in Iceland, in addition to the country’s capital – where half of its population lives – and the northernmost on the planet, is a city with 100% renewable hydroelectric and geothermal energy sources, being a leader in terms of sustainability energy and smart solutions. It has an efficient transport system: through a mobile application it offers residents and tourists the possibility to find the most efficient route for their journey, which has resulted in a more intensive use of public transport by residents. Residents.

More than a decade ago, Reykjavik implemented a government interaction system through which citizens can submit ideas about any aspect of the city (from school opening hours to proposing new playgrounds); subsequently, the city council analyzes the ideas and studies the possibility of developing them. In this way, citizens are allowed to really participate in the concrete changes of the city.


Santiago is ranked 68 in the king ra general dimension highlighted in the environment and is a leader in its region. Together with Buenos Aires, they are the two most innovative cities in Latin America. The Chilean capital works to offer technological tools that favor territorial coordination so that its citizens, communities and companies can develop their projects. According to the Global Livability Ranking 2019 (The Economist), Santiago ranks second as the best city to live in Latin America.


Sydney has developed a strategic smart city framework with the aim of guiding the city towards a smart transformation. To do this, it provides a platform to improve the city’s public places and the environment, foster its innovation ecosystem, celebrate its rich cultural diversity, and strengthen the sense of community and belonging. The city seeks to put technology at the service of its citizens and residents. It is a dynamic, responsive metropolis that wants to take advantage of technology and data for collaborative innovation that creates a prosperous and inclusive future for all its inhabitants.

It occupies the 17th place in the general ranking, the 7th in the dimension of international projection and the first in its region.


The city-state of Singapore is constantly showing its strength as the technology capital of Asia. It is a true smart city, where technological advances are the order of the day. It was the first in the world to launch a driverless taxi system, and the government plans to launch similar buses by 2022. Those vehicles will become an inherent part of the streets and public transportation in certain urban areas.

Although its crime rates are already among the lowest in the world, the implementation of technologies in police performance creates more problems for crime. In this sense, the city has implemented robot police and has remote surveillance systems in order to guarantee the safety of its citizens.

It ranks 9th in the general ranking, second in technology and third in international projection.

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In Tokyo, a city with considerable technological influence on the global stage, the smart city concept it has veered strongly towards the social dimension in recent years. While projects in other smart cities tend to focus on developing technological innovations to boost efficiency, in Japan they tend to focus more on boosting social cohesion and addressing social issues such as the country’s aging population. For that reason, a national initiative known as Society 5.0 has been launched, which aims to achieve a next-generation data-driven society that is human-centered and uses technology such as artificial intelligence and the IoT. This vision would ensure that all inhabitants, regardless of their location, and including the elderly in rural areas, receive the benefits of innovation and technological advances.

Tokyo ranks 4 in the general ranking and a prominent position in economics, where it reaches 3 position. It is also a leader in its region.

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