These Are The 50 Smartest Cities in the World in 2018

The Center for Globalization and Strategy from Barcelona’s IESE Business School has unveiled its annual list of the world’s smartest cities. In its fifth year, the IESE Cities in Motion Index has calculated the performance scores for 165 cities across 80 countries based on an exhaustive rubric of economic and social indicators. Familiar global power centers have maintained their position at the top of the heap, while expanded categories of assessment have helped a few small cities advance their position drastically.

© Wikimedia user chensiyuan licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Image: Hong Kong, ranked #9 on the Cities In Motion Index

Under the direction of Professors Pascual Berrone and Joan Enric Ricart, the school’s Cities In Motion Index ranks cities based on their performance in nine fundamental categories that demonstrate the necessary dimensions of a healthy modern city in the 21st century: human capital, social cohesion, the economy, governance, the environment, mobility and transportation, urban planning, international outreach, and technology. Within each category, the cities are graded based on a collection of 83 total factors. This grading system has been expanded this year to include new criteria like the ISO 37120 certification, numbers of terrorist attacks in a city, as well as variables based on projected information like forecasted temperature variation resulting from climate change.

According to the IESE, the assessment rubric is strategically designed to assess each city’s progress towards “a novel form of local economic development: the creation of a global city, the promotion of the entrepreneurial spirit, and innovation, among other aspects.” The adjustments made to this year’s report have helped a number of smaller cities claim prestigious ranks on the 2018 list, especially Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, which was ranked fifth this year after not even cracking the top 50 in 2017.

© Wikimedia user Someformofhuman licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Image: Singapore, ranked #6 on the Cities In Motion Index

IESE Cities in Motion Index 2018:

  1. New York (+0) Last year's rank: 1

  2. London (+0) Last year's rank:  2

  3. Paris (+0) Last year's rank:  3

  4. Tokyo (+4) Last year's rank:  8

  5. Reykjavik NEW

  6. Singapore (+16) Last year's rank: 22

  7. Seoul (+0) Last year's rank: 7

  8. Toronto (+3) Last year's rank: 11

  9. Hong Kong (+33) Last year's rank: 42

  10. Amsterdam (+0) Last year's rank: 10

  11. Berlin (-2) Last year's rank: 9

  12. Melbourne (-2) Last year's rank: 12

  13. Copenhagen (+14) Last year's rank: 27

  14. Chicago (-2) Last year's rank: 12

  15. Sydney (+1) Last year's rank: 16

  16. Stockholm (+9) Last year's rank: 25

  17. Los Angeles (+1) Last year's rank: 18

  18. Wellington NEW

  19. Vienna (-4) Last year's rank: 15

  20. Washington (-14) Last year's rank: 6

  21. Boston (-17) Last year's rank: 4

  22. Helsinki (-7) Last year's rank: 29

  23. Oslo (+3) Last year's rank: 26

  24. Zurich (-11) Last year's rank: 13

  25. Madrid (+3) Last year's rank: 28

  26. Barcelona (+9) Last year's rank: 35

  27. San Francisco (-22) Last year's rank: 5

  28. Auckland (+16) Last year's rank: 44

  29. Bern NEW

  30. Dublin (+3) Last year's rank: 33

  31. Hamburg (+3) Last year's rank: 34

  32. Geneva (+15) Last year's rank: 17

  33. Gothenburg NEW

  34. Basel (+13) Last year's rank: 47

  35. Ottawa (-11) Last year's rank: 24

  36. Vancouver (-15) Last year's rank: 21

  37. Munich (-18) Last year's rank: 19

  38. Montreal (-7) Last year's rank: 31

  39. Houston (-7) Last year's rank: 32

  40. Prague (+3) Last year's rank: 41

  41. Dallas (-18) Last year's rank: 23

  42. Frankfurt (-6) Last year's rank: 36

  43. Rotterdam NEW

  44. Lyon (+6) Last year's rank: 50

  45. Milan (-7) Last year's rank: 38

  46. Philadelphia (-16) Last year's rank: 30

  47. San Diego NEW

  48. Brussels (-8) Last year's rank: 40

  49. Riga NEW

  50. Tallinn NEW

The cities with the largest changes in rank are Hong Kong, which rose a whopping 33 places to enter the top ten, coming in ninth after being ranked forty-second in 2017. San Francisco turned in this year’s most drastic tumble, falling 22 places from its previous rank of fifth down to twenty-seventh. Other cities that showed significant improvement include Singapore (+16), Auckland (+16), Geneva (+15), Copenhagen (+14), and Basel (+13); while other declining performers include Munich (-18), Dallas (-18), Boston (-17), Philadelphia (-16), Vancouver (-15) and Washington (-14).

After failing to make the top 50 in 2017, these eight cities have placed this year's list: Reykjavik in 5th place, Wellington in 18th, Bern in 29th, Gothenburg in 33rd, Rotterdam in 43rd, San Diego in 47th, Riga in 49th, and Tallinn in 50th.

Displaced by these newcomers, the following cities have dropped out of the top 50: Baltimore, Phoenix, Glasgow, Rome, Stuttgart, Linz, Miami, and Florence.

By continent, European cities claim the most places on the list with 12 representatives, doubling the total of six from North America—the second best-represented continent. Asia claims the third-most listed cities, with all four ranking in the top ten. 

See the full report by IESE's Cities in Motion Index here.

About this author
Cite: Jack McManus. "These Are The 50 Smartest Cities in the World in 2018" 26 Jul 2018. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

© <a href=''>Flickr user Francisco Diaz</a> licensed under <a href=''>CC BY 2.0</a>. Image: New York City, ranked #1 on the Cities In Motion Index


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