Governance > Study: Data is Helping Cities Drive Social Development Goals

A recent study by research firm ESI ThoughtLab found that technology, data, partnerships, and citizen engagement all have a vital role to play in enabling municipalities to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and drive social development goal.

To help understand how cities are using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a future roadmap, ESI ThoughtLab collaborated with a coalition of government, business, and academic leaders to conduct a comprehensive benchmarking study of diverse cities across six world regions: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America.

The study, Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World has also identified the rise of a new class of cities - Cities 4.0 - that were leaders in leveraging these proficiencies to achieve their goals, Smart Cities World reported.

The research also included artificial intelligence-enabled sentiment analysis of citizen views on the SDGs and digital solutions from around the world. The study seeks to act as an evidence-based playbook for driving better social, environmental, and economic outcomes.

“Our discussions with global city leaders have made it clear that the pandemic has been a catalyst for remarkable technological, business, and social change, which will continue even after the health crisis ends,” said Lou Celi, CEO of ESI ThoughtLab.

“The most successful cities will be digitally transformed, citizen-centric, and fully sustainable, as well as skilled in the new ways of doing business. We call these cities, Cities 4.0.”

Researchers from ESI ThoughtLab found that 20 of the 167 cities surveyed meet the definition of Cities 4.0 – cities that excel at leveraging technology, data, ecosystems, and partnerships of all kinds, from those with businesses and universities to citizens and communities.

As a result, Cities 4.0 are further ahead in smart city initiatives than other cities. For example, they widely deploy 14 smart city projects versus an average of seven for other cities and they have superior infrastructure, better public transportation, roads, parks, healthcare, and digital connectivity.

In addition, Cities 4.0 have made the greatest headway on the SDGs, with 86 percent making progress across all 17 goals, and they are seeing higher ROI on technology investments made in all urban domains, including digital infrastructure; mobility and transportation; public safety; living and health; government and education; sustainability; and energy and water.

The 20 Cities 4.0 identified in the study are Aarhus, Athens, Baltimore, Barcelona, Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Orlando, Paris, Philadelphia, Singapore, Tallinn, and Vienna.


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