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Photograph: Josie Withers

The smartest cities in the world have been revealed – and Melbourne has dropped in the rankings

But hey, at least we made the list in the first place?!

Melissa Woodley
Leah Glynn
Written by
Melissa Woodley
Leah Glynn

Melbourne has a lot of things going for it: great restaurants, stunning architecture and a pretty spectacular city skyline. But apparently, being cultured and cute doesn't necessarily equate to being clever. At least not according to the 2024 Smart City Index.

The annual study of smartest cities around the globe has just dropped, and Melbourne has actually slipped two spots in the rankings to 33rd. Outrageous, right?! According to the study, being a ‘smart’ city isn’t just about having brainy residents. It’s about the whole package: a city’s economic and technological state, combined with “humane dimensions”, like its quality of life, environmental savviness and inclusiveness.

To determine these rankings, the brainiacs at IMD analysed existing data and combined it with more than 20,000 survey responses from people in 141 cities worldwide. They quizzed residents on 15 key topics related to their life in their hometowns, including what issues they reckon are the most pressing (eg: affordable housing, security, public transport, fulfilling employment), along with how effective they think tech solutions and infrastructure are at tackling local problems and boosting quality of life.

Just like last year, Zurich snagged first place, followed by Oslo and then Canberra. To be fair, this checks out – our nation's capital is home to the highest number of government institutions and one of the most educated populations. According to the report, Canberra excelled in its health and safety initiatives, scoring above average in the availability of medical services, cultural activities (bars, shows and museums), green spaces and quality education. However, it lost a few points in governance technology, including lacking an online platform where residents can propose ideas on how to improve the city. On top of this, almost 85 per cent of Canberrans identified ‘affordable housing’ as their biggest area of concern, followed by health services (70.1 per cent) and public transport (49.1 per cent).

In terms of other Aussie representation, Sydney slipped six spots to 22nd and Brisbane dropped four spots to 30th. People living in all these cities (including Melbourne) shared the same top three concerns for affordable housing, road congestion and health services.

Here are the top ten smartest cities in 2024, with the full list available here:

  1. Zurich
  2. Oslo
  3. Canberra
  4. Geneva
  5. Singapore
  6. Copenhagen
  7. Lausanne
  8. London
  9. Helsinki
  10. Abu Dhabi

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