How do you know if the city you’re living in is safe? Is it based on the crime rate? The sheer size? Maybe it’s based on the quality of the traffic and sewage systems? The accessibility of health care and pollution levels? Or perhaps it’s the potential of cyber attack?
Well, according to the Economists Intelligence Unit (EIU), who recently produced the Safe Cities Index, it’s a combination of all of the above.
While creating their Index, the EIU examined everything from digital security – the number of cyber attacks conducted and how they were dealt with – to infrastructure security, which includes an evaluation of sanitation and traffic systems, and even the management of natural disasters. They assessed cities’ health security, looking at the number of hospital beds and doctors per 1,000 people, their levels of personal safety, measured by things such as levels of pollution and crime rates.
So, without further ado, which city did the EIU rank as the globe’s safest?
That’s right, the world’s most populous (and natural disaster-prone) city actually has a remarkably low crime rate, a fantastic pollution-reducing and pedestrian-friendly traffic system. The Japanese capital scored first on digital security rating, eight on health security, third on personal safety and fifth on infrastructure safety, giving it an overall top-ranking on the Safe Cities Index.
Following the Japanese capital as the top-rated safe cities are:
– Singapore, Malaysia
– Osaka, Japan
– Stockholm, Sweden
– Amsterdam, The Netherlands
– Sydney, Australia
– Zurich, Switzerland
– Toronto, Canada
– Melbourne, Australia
– New York, USA
– Hong Kong China
Though the Index provides an informative overall ranking of global city’s safety, it should be taken with a grain of salt, explains The Guardian‘s Emine Saner. Saner says that the Index seems to be geared towards a “municipal official responsible for the smooth running of a city” as opposed to an individual concerned for their own personal well-being, pointing out that some safety categories used in the Index, like cyber attack, have less importance to individuals than say personal safety, but are given equal importance in the index.
Many other factors that would be of concern for many individuals, such as the city’s bike friendliness and levels of sexual harassment, are not included at all. Neither is the likelihood of natural disaster.
The EIU themselves note that the safety levels and rankings of many cities are prone to change, considering the flexibility and complexity of all of the factors involved in the rating.
The EIU point out that New York, for example, has seen an incredible change in its crime rates in less than 20 years. In 1990 the city had 2,245 homicides – about six a day. By 2013, after the city had grown in population by nearly one million, that number fell to 335 – a historic low for the city.
However, there must be some merit to the EIU Safe City Index. Researchers found that living in a higher-ranked city can make “a real and measurable difference to city inhabitants,” increasing life expectancy by a number of years. In fact, the Index’s top 25 safety-rated cities, the average life expectancy is 81. For the bottom 25 the average drops by 6 years 75.
So, the moral of the story? Before you start backing your bags in the pursuit of a longer lifespan, remember to think about what type of urban environment is the safest for you. Considering your individual needs, fears and lifestyle preferences. And also remember to choose a city what makes you the most happy.