Often among the top 10 countries in international smart city rankings, Singapore now wants to create a comprehensive index of its own that stands out from the host of others created by consulting and technology organisations - by considering citizens' feedback as one of the measures.
The Smart City Index, which will be released in full in October this year, will measure elements such as how citizens view the use of technology in their city.
For example, an ongoing survey has found that citizens expressed different levels of comfort about the use of facial scanning for administrative efficiencies or public safety, a tool which San Francisco banned earlier this year to prevent potential abuse.
"In Chongqing and Bengaluru, people are 100 per cent comfortable, but people in Boston and Amsterdam do not want their faces scanned. People in Singapore and Dubai have mixed feelings," said Dr Bruno Lanvin, president of the Smart City Observatory at the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), the Switzerland-based business school.
The index is a joint effort between IMD and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), which came up with the idea for a new way to measure smart cities.
"The Smart City Index is different from other indices because it is comprehensive; it measures not just technology, but also...citizen feedback," said Professor Chan Heng Chee in an interview with The Straits Times. She chairs SUTD's Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities.
A survey of about 200 citizens will be conducted in each city to gauge how happy people are with their city's approach to solving road congestion, pollution, housing and public safety issues, among others.
Citizens from 100 cities including Amsterdam, Bengaluru, Chongqing, Jakarta, Montreal, Seoul and Zurich will be surveyed.
A preview of the results from 16 cities is outlined in a book newly published by the two institutions titled Sixteen Shades Of Smart: How Cities Can Shape Their Own Future.
Calling the index a "tool for action", Dr Lanvin said it can provide insight into how cities can be smart by learning from other cities, while allowing for citizens' feedback to help shape city-level policy making.
"We're all after the holy grail: how to build a smart city. If you were to have a blueprint, what would the blueprint look like?" added Prof Chan, noting that it is a question that researchers at SUTD and IMD aim to help answer.