Four Indian cities -- New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru -- witnessed a significant drop in their rankings in the global listing of smart cities that was topped by Singapore.
The Institute for Management Development (IMD), in collaboration with Singapore University for Technology and Design (SUTD), has released the 2020 Smart City Index, with key findings on how technology is playing a role in the COVID-19 era.
In the 2020 Smart City Index, Hyderabad was placed at the 85th position (down from 67 in 2019), New Delhi at 86th rank (down from 68 in 2019), Mumbai was at 93rd place (in 2019 it was at 78) and Bengaluru at 95th (79 in 2019).
"Cities in India (New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru) suffer significant drops this year. This can be attributed to the detrimental effect that the pandemic has had where the technological advancement was not up to date," the report said.
It further added that "Indian cities have suffered more from the pandemic because they were not prepared".
From 15 indicators that the respondents perceive as the priority areas for their city, all four cities highlighted air pollution as one of the key areas that they felt their city needed to prioritise on.
For cities like Bangalore and Mumbai, this was closely followed by road congestion while for Delhi and Hyderabad it was basic amenities, the report said.
The 2020 Smart City Index (SCI) was topped by Singapore, followed by Helsinki and Zurich in the second and the third place respectively. Others in the top 10 list include Auckland (4th), Oslo (5th), Copenhagen (6th), Geneva (7th), Taipei City (8th), Amsterdam (9th) and New York at the 10th place.
In SCI's context, 'smart city' describes an urban setting that apply technology to enhance the benefits and diminish the shortcomings of urbanization.
The second edition of the SCI ranked 109 cities worldwide by capturing perceptions of randomly chosen 120 residents in each city.
Hundreds of citizens from 109 cities were surveyed in April and May 2020 and asked questions on the technological provisions of their city across five key areas: health and safety, mobility, activities, opportunities and governance.
Reflected in this year's rankings is that cities have ever differing approaches to technology as managing the pandemic has become increasingly important in local politics, the report said.
"We cannot ignore the impact of COVID," said IMD's Professor Arturo Bris, who led the work of the ranking as the Director of the World Competitiveness Center at the Swiss management institute which is behind it. Those with better technology manage the pandemic better. Smart cities are not the solution, but technology helps," he explained.
"Smart cities closer to the top of the rankings seem to deal with unexpected challenges of the devastating pandemic with a better outcome," remarked Professor Heng Chee Chan, Chairperson of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at SUTD.