Singapore keeps its spot as world's second safest city

Singapore came tops in both infrastructure and personal security.
Singapore came tops in both infrastructure and personal security.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

Singapore has retained its position as the world's second safest city, after Tokyo, in a global index that looks at indicators including the ability of communities to bounce back after a disaster or cyber attack.

The Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Safe Cities Index (SCI), which ranks 60 cities across five continents, looks at 57 qualitative and quantitative indicators spread across four categories in terms of security: digital, infrastructure, health and personal.

A total of 10 new indicators were added this year, including on the existence and speed of emergency services, the existence of a disaster plan and the ability to defend infrastructure against cyber attacks.

The EIU said the ability of cities to bounce back from shocks or disasters defined their "resilience", which is increasingly a key component of urban safety.

This is the third time in three editions of the SCI - the centrepiece of a research project sponsored by NEC Corporation - that Singapore has come in at second place overall. The last two reports were published in 2015 and 2017.

The Republic did especially well in infrastructure and personal security, coming tops in both categories.

Part of that has to do with the number of CCTV cameras installed across the island.

According to a separate analysis by tech research company Comparitech published earlier this month, Singapore is the 11th most surveilled cities in the world, with 15.25 cameras per 1,000 people.


In the SCI, Singapore also ranked high in terms of digital security, coming in at second place. In terms of health security, it moved up the ranks from 13th in 2017 to eighth this year.

Ms Naka Kondo, senior editor of the EIU and editor of the SCI 2019 report, said: "The research highlights how different types of safety are thoroughly intertwined - that it is rare to find a city with very good results in one safety pillar and lagging in others."

Six cities in the Asia-Pacific moved into the top 10 in the index this year. Besides Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka (third), they are Sydney (fifth), Seoul (eighth) and Melbourne (tenth). Rounding out the list were Amsterdam (fourth), Toronto (sixth), Washington (seventh) and Copenhagen (which tied with Seoul for eighth).

Hong Kong dropped out of the top 10 and was placed 20th, although this had nothing to do with the ongoing protests in the territory as the data used for the SCI was collated before they began. Instead, the city fell most significantly in its digital security rankings due to an added indicator on the risk of local malware threats.

Should the protests continue, however, it could impact on the city's ranking in the future. A spokesman for EIU told The Straits Times: "If there are sustained attacks on infrastructure, an ongoing increase in political instability, civil unrest or if relations between the police force and the community cannot be repaired, then it is likely that Hong Kong's score would fall."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore keeps its spot as world's second safest city'. Print Edition | Subscribe