SINGAPORE (Sept 2): Singapore has retained its position as the world’s second safest city, coming in just after Tokyo, in the latest edition of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Safe Cities Index (SCI) released on Thursday.

Other cities that clinched the top five spots are Osaka, Amsterdam and Sydney that ranked third, fourth and fifth on the list.

Launched at the EIU’s Safe Cities Summit, the SCI – which is annouced once every two years - ranks 60 cities across 57 indicators covering a their security in the areas of digital, healthcare, infrastructure and personal safety.

This year’s third edition boasted some 10 new indicators, spanning areas such as the existence and speed of emergency services and disaster plans as well the ease with which countries defend their infrastructure against cyber attacks.

The EIU notes that these factors have become more critical over the years as web usage has increased and has in turn pre-disposed countries to shocks and threats; their ability to bounce back thus indicates their “resilience”.

Singapore clinched the second position in the previous two editions, launched in 2015 and 2017 – testament to the city state’s “resilience”. This year, it won first place in the categories of infrastructure and personal security. It also did well in digital security – coming in second place, and moved up five places from 2017 to the eighth position for health security.

Tokyo, on the other hand, was the strongest performer in the digital security category inching up eight spots from the ninth place it had secured in 2017.

Naka Kondo, editor of this year’s report, says: “overall, while wealth is among the most important determinant of safety, the levels of transparency and governance correlate as closely as income with index scores”. She adds that the research is an indication of how the different types of safety are intertwined.

“Looking at the top five cities in each category yields a similar message of – the leading cities in each of the categories got the basics right”, says Kondo. She also says that the weaknesses of those not ranked highly varied across cities, but “those who want to improve need to get the basics in place and then consider their own specific situations”.

Apart from Singapore, five cities from Asia Pacific performed well in the index, placing in the top 10, this year. These include Tokyo (1st), Osaka (3rd), Sydney (5th), Seoul (8th) and Melbourne (10th). A notable movement this year was Hong Kong’s drop from being in the top 10 to placing 20th – a decline that is independent of the ongoing protests as the data for the SCI was prepared prior to the start of the ongoing protests there. However, the EIU says that there may be implications on the nation’s ranking in future editions of the SCI, if the protests persist.

Looking at this year’s list, Kondo commended the Asia-Pacific cities for their strength in health, infrastructure and personal security, adding that their North American counterparts generally fare better in digital security.

However, she acknowledges that other cities in the region are catching up. "Although APAC cities such as Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka continue to rank within the top three cities in the Index, the region also hosts some of the lowest-scoring cities in the world, with Yangon, Karachi and Dhaka close to the bottom of the list”.