Hong Kong secured the No. 19 spot in the 2023 edition of the IMD Smart City Index, which is the first time the city has entered the Top 20. The SAR was also included among the index’s six “super-champion” cities for its continuous improvement since 2019, when it placed No. 38 on the list.

This year, Zurich retained its No. 1 position, while Singapore (No. 7) is the highest-ranking Asian city in the rankings. Apart from Hong Kong, the other super-champion cities are Zurich, Oslo (No. 2), Singapore, Beijing (No. 12), and Seoul (No. 16).

The study aims to demonstrate the extent to which technology enables cities to address the challenges they face to achieve a higher quality of life for their residents. For this year’s edition, it also used recently acquired city-level data from the Global Data Lab’s Human Development Index (HDI) to measure parameters such as life expectancy, expected years of schooling, the mean years of education completed, and the per capita income of citizens.

The Top 19 Smart Cities in the world.
The Top 19 Smart Cities in the world (© International Institute for Management Development)

How Hong Kong developed as a smart city

In 2020, the Hong Kong government released the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0, which outlined more than 130 smart city initiatives across areas six areas – mobility, living, environment, people, government and economy – to address the challenges of city management and improving people’s livelihoods through innovation and technology.

As part of the 2023-2024 budget announced in February, Financial Secretary Paul Chan revealed that the government will spend HK$200 million to improve the iAM Smart platform with the aim of providing the public with more convenient one-stop digital services and improving user experience. In addition, Chan allocated HK$265 million for Cyberport to launch a dedicated incubation programme for smart living start-ups.

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Priority areas for cities surveyed in IMD's Smart City Index 2023.
Priority areas for cities surveyed in IMD’s Smart City Index 2023 (© International Institute for Management Development)

The IMD Smart City Index also examined city living across 141 cities and asked 20,000 citizens about which were the most urgent priorities, from affordable housing and road congestion to fulfilling employment and green spaces. Respondents were also asked about whether tech-based solutions effectively addressing their major concerns.

Most Hong Kong respondents (76%) said that their most pressing concern was affordable housing, which is in line with global findings about the city being the least affordable housing market in the world for 13 years running. However, only 15.2% of respondents said they were concerned about the city’s public transport, which ties in with Hong Kong’s status as the world’s top city for public transit.

Header image credits: Asia-Pacific Images Studio via Canva

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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