The Economist’s 2019 Safe Cities Index is the result of a multifaceted investigation that looks at fifty-seven indicators across these four major categories. The study ranks the top five cities in each category, and winners range from Chicago and Washington, DC in digital security to Osaka and Seoul in health security, Osaka and Barcelona in infrastructure security, and Copenhagen and Hong Kong in personal security. But two cities in Asia — Tokyo and Singapore — rank repeatedly in the top five, making them the top contenders for the safest city in the world.
Over two-thirds of the global population will live in urban environments by the year 2050. Upcoming decades will continue to see wide-scale growth in concentrated geographic zones, making safety a major focus. Modern cities must address the issue of safety from all angles. Personal safety continues to be a significant concern for urban centers, but it’s not the only pillar of safety that matters. Safe modern living also encompasses health, infrastructure, and digital security.
Let’s take a look at how these cities work to promote safety.
This Japanese metropolis is astoundingly dense, packing in over 12,000 people per square mile. Yet it is remarkably safe, earning top marks in these domains of safety.
Personal safety: Japan is often cited as one of the safest countries on earth, in part due to deeply held cultural values of passivity and non-violence. Compared to the rest of the world, Japan also has extremely low rates of poverty, unemployment, and drug use, an efficient legal system, and very low rates of gun ownership, all of which have been tied to diminished crime.
Digital security: Tokyo is famous for its advanced technology, and the city earns its reputation in the domain of digital safety—it’s considered to be the most digitally secure urban center in the entire world.
Health: Residents of Tokyo enjoy access to quality healthcare, with a higher number of beds per thousand residents than many other cities around the world.
Infrastructure: Because Tokyo sits atop earthquake-prone land, city planners and architects have made investing in anti-seismic infrastructure a leading priority. In fact, eighty-seven percent of the city’s buildings meet modern anti-seismic standards. Additionally, deep beneath the city lies the six-kilometer long Area Outer Underground Discharge Tunnel, which was designed to channel waters from floods, tsunamis, or hurricanes into the Edo River without causing damage to the city.
Singapore also supports an extremely dense population, with almost 22,000 people per square mile. Still, the city manages to score top points on these pillars of security:
Infrastructure safety: This sovereign city-state is very pedestrian-friendly. Much like Tokyo, it’s also known for its disaster risk-informed architectural practices. Singapore’s infrastructure is tightly administrated, with advanced continuity management plans. Overall, Singapore ranks first in the world for infrastructure safety.
Digital security: Most of the computers in Singapore are secure; residential and business devices enjoy very low rates of infection by malware and viruses.
Personal security: The Safe Cities Index reveals that Singapore ranks highest on measures of personal safety, beating out every other city in the world. This may be in part due to the harsh punishments it doles out for crime, even for low-level offences. Additionally, the city-state has extremely high levels of public surveillance. With over fifteen cameras per one thousand inhabitants, it ranks eleventh on the list of most highly-surveilled cities on earth.
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About the author:
Danielle Martin has taught multiple subjects to students in three different states. She previously spent time as a literary agent’s assistant and video editor. Danielle writes about education, organizational culture, health, and lifestyle topics, and she also enjoys writing fiction.