The 5 Safest Cities in the World, Post-Pandemic
In a post-pandemic reality, which cities are the safest in the world? The Economist Intelligence Unit recently published its 2021 Safe Cities Index, ranking 60 cities based on 76 safety indicators across infrastructure, digital life, personal security, environmental factors, and health – including pandemic preparedness and COVID-19 mortality metrics.
The cities that placed at the top of the ranking are perfect demonstrations of how overall safety is directly linked to a strong sense of social cohesion, total population inclusion, and societal trust. Read on for details on the top 5 safest cities and what they did to make the cut.
The 5 Safest Cities in the World
Ranking first in the index, Denmark's capital city of Copenhagen performed well due to the newly introduced environmental security pillar. This measures sustainability (including renewable energy incentives), air quality, waste management, and urban forest cover. Without a doubt, the latter had a strong impact in how well the city and its residents could cope with COVID restrictions, although these were completely lifted in September.
Copenhagen continues to provide "Corona-guides" to assist people, in addition to extensive signage and clear markings to delineate space between groups. Another plus is Denmark's ranking as one of the world's least corrupt countries, enabling its citizens to trust both its institutions and each other throughout the pandemic.
The city implemented a massive COVID testing program. Testing is free for everyone, including tourists; data gathered allows for the detailed contact tracing and monitoring. What's more, the capital plans to implement wastewater testing to catch outbreaks before they become widespread.
Canada's largest city came in second in overall safety, scoring highs marks in both infrastructure and environmental security. Toronto residents highlight an inclusive approach that prioritizes targeted communication across different communities, particularly regarding COVID vaccinations.
Community-specific vaccine rollouts help make the city a safer place. For instance, there were programs for residents unable to leave their homes, and task forces that came together to push for vaccine equity among communities of color. The city's commitment to multiculturalism and diversity contribute to making residents feel safe, seen, and included. Different ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds come together, interacting on a daily basis and fostering deeper connection.
Singapore ranks second in digital security, health security, and infrastructure security, which helped immensely during the early days of the pandemic. The city-state implemented digital monitoring and contact tracing to survey and control outbreaks quickly. Singapore also boasts one of the world's highest vaccination rates (currently at 82%), but still requires strict monitoring and contact tracing in the face of new variants.
To enter any building, residents must scan a TraceTogether token or phone app to access SafeEntry check-ins. Singapore government authorities track any individuals who might have been in contact with infected people and apply a quarantine order to contain or extinguish the transmission of a COVID-19 outbreak.
Public transportation is less congested due to a shift in work-from-home policies. Local tourist attractions and shopping malls have limited entrances, and "Safe Distancing Ambassadors" monitor crowds to ensure the public complies with health orders; individuals who break them face hefty fines. The public can also track crowds at malls, post offices, and grocery stores with the a new tool called Space Out.
Australia's largest city scored fifth overall in the index, and in the top ten for health security. Australia was one of the first countries to completely shut its borders during the pandemic and has maintained strict lockdowns in the face of rising cases – and it's working. As vaccinations reach 70% in New South Wales, many restrictions are expected to lift and international borders are set to open in November.
Japan's capital ranked fifth in the overall index and at the very top of the health security index, which measures factors like universal healthcare, pandemic preparedness, life expectancy, mental health, and COVID-19 mortality. Although new cases surged during the summer Olympics, rates fell dramatically as vaccinations have reached nearly 60% of the population.
As a result, Japan announced the end of the federal state of emergency and the gradual lifting of restrictions at the close of September 2021. The country plans to encourage the use of its vaccine passport for admittance to medical facilities and large events, and even encourage businesses to offer discounts or coupons to passport holders.
Tokyo also scored in the top five for its infrastructure security, which includes transport safety, pedestrian friendliness, and transportation networks. As a walkable city connected by rail, Tokyo encourages walking and community engagement, which has led to a stronger citizen participation in security in the forms of neighborhood crime prevention and watches, and a shared sense of responsibility for crime prevention.