The world feels like a wholly unpredictable place these days. Between recent natural disasters and terrorist attacks, travelers are understandably exercising more caution when choosing their final destination.
To help determine which cities are the safest, The Economist Intelligence Unit released its 2017 Safe Cities Index. The report judges 60 metropolises on four major criteria -- digital security (cyber threats), health (healthcare access, emergency services), infrastructure (safe buildings and roads), and personal safety (urban crime, terrorism, and other violence) -- and offers a score based on an index out of 100. The major takeaway? Whether you’re a world traveler searching for the next spot to cross off your bucket list, or you’re looking to relocate, you may want to consider Asia.
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Tokyo, which also stole the top spot in 2015, stayed ahead of the pack, with the highest score of 89.80. Japan’s bustling capital city ranked first in digital security, second in health security, and fourth in personal security. The Japanese government is “stepping up its efforts to counter cyber threats and protect critical infrastructure ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020,” the report notes.
Singapore earned a score of 89.64, taking home the gold in infrastructure and personal safety. According to the study, their police cameras have helped solve more than 1,000 cases since its inception in 2012. Osaka placed third, with a score of 88.87, and also received solid safety points. The Japanese city came in third for personal security (thanks to a low rate of terror attacks and crime), and ranked first worldwide in health security.
Toronto, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Sydney, Stockholm, Hong Kong, and Zurich rounded out the respectable top 10 list. Interestingly, no U.S. cities broke the top 10, but San Francisco did come close, landing 15th on the list.
On the other hand, Karachi, Pakistan, was deemed the least safe city, with an overall score of 38.77. Not only did it come in last for health and personal security, but it also had the highest frequency and severity of terrorist attacks. Yangon, Dhaka, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, and Manila also landed at the bottom of the list.
The Economist found that man-made risks, like cyber attacks and terrorism, are on the rise in urban centers across the globe. And with the exception of Madrid and Seoul, security is declining in most cities. For example, New York City fell 11 spots to 21st place, and Lima is down 13, landing on the 44th spot.
That’s not to say progress hasn’t been made. “At least in the developed world, more cities are devoting resources to digital security,” the report notes. “But significant gaps in safety remain. In many instances, it’s a matter of resources — financial, human, and political. Yet in others, it’s a question of understanding. The latter is easier to bridge and cities can start with identifying the problems and understanding how they’ve been solved elsewhere.”
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