Technology has revolutionized our world, streamlining complex tasks and rapidly breaking down the barriers between developed and developing cities. Some cities in our world are more prepared than others for the future of technology, whether it be due to their integrated smart city plans, their push for universal access to internet, or their suitability for software and digital production. All cities on this list have been ranked by the Pricewaterhouse Coopers Cities of Opportunity 6 Report, which analyzes the current performance and future trajectory of a host of cities based on their internet access in schools, broadband quality, digital economy, and software development and multimedia design.
These cities are seriously pushing the boundaries of our technological know-how and wowing us with their advanced designs. For example, one of the coolest tech cities is Tokyo; beyond its focus on digital and gaming software, the city is planning to amaze the world with an artificial meteor shower during the 2020 Olympics. Other major cities such as Hong Kong are leading the way for technology in schools with its widespread internet and even fingerprint scanners for attendance. Then we have the most technologically advanced hub in Asia: a city which has CCTV cameras which can detect trespassing and gives its low-income residents used smart devices to integrate them into the smart grid. Check out these high-tech cities and more in this list of 25 of the Most Technologically Advanced Cities in the World.
Cover Image CC via Wikipedia
The first city on our list of the most technologically advanced cities in the world is Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. With over 10 million inhabitants, Jakarta is the most populous city in Southeast Asia and is as large as the state of Singapore. At the convergence of multiple cultures including Arab, Indian, Malay, Javanese, Chinese, and Dutch, Jakarta is a high-tech Asian hub, despite its terrible traffic.
The financial powerhouse of sub-Saharan Africa, Johannesburg devotes itself to growing through technology. The city planning committee has put a major focus on tech industry partnerships, especially in information and communications technology. Jo-burg’s police force has even gone high-tech, installing CCTV cameras on every street corner in the city center to cut down on crime.
Beating out Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley of India,” for the only Indian spot on this list, Mumbai nonetheless packs a heavy punch when it comes to tech, specializing in information technology and healthcare technology. Though the film “Slumdog Millionaire” casts the city’s slums in a dire light, professors such as Suketu Mehta cast them in a more positive light: as hubs for entrepreneurial energy powered by locals forced to provide what the state doesn’t.
The most populous city in China, Shanghai has devoted itself to technology, even creating multiple industrial zones exclusively focused on tech. The advanced city has attracted major industry players such as ExxonMobil and Tesla Motors, which signed a non-binding agreement with a local company to make Shanghai its production base in China.
Buenos Aires’ focus on innovation and its support of local start-up accelerators has cemented the city as the best tech hub in South America. Buenos Aires is also one of the best examples of a city using tech to care for its citizens, automating maintenance of almost 1,000 miles (1,500 kms) of water drainage pipes to cut down on flooding and even allowing citizens to tweet a picture of issues which are then fixed within 96 hours.
Beijing’s economy has largely moved past the industrial model; its economy is now 77% service-based, largely in finance, retail, and information technology. China’s Silicon Valley is Zhongguancun in the city’s northwest, home to both start-ups and established tech giants such as Lenovo, Google, and Microsoft’s new Chinese research headquarters.
Responsible for putting the first man in space, Russians are notoriously skilled at computer science and technology. So far, Moscow has excelled at creating copies of Western companies, such as Yandex and VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Google and Facebook. These days, the city is becoming a leader in new and less common types of tech, such as nanotechnology.
Dubai is the de facto Middle Eastern hub for technology (especially IT), home to global firms such as Hewlett-Packard, Oracle, and IBM. The city has invested heavily in tech, even constructing Smart Palm trees with solar-powered phone-chargers and Wi-Fi hotspots. It also launched the Dubai Smart City project to connect residents in a fully-integrated “smart” environment of the future.
The economic powerhouse of Italy, Milan is mostly known for its fashion and banking industries. Besides the glamour and the money, Milan hosts numerous high-tech expos and even hosted the 2015 World’s Fair. Within the tech sector, the city is a leader in biotechnology.
Though Barcelona is Spain’s primary industrial center, Madrid has a strong focus in high-tech production and advanced technology. The combination of a highly educated workforce and the headquarters of many Spanish multinationals has made Madrid one of Europe’s foremost technology hubs.
Kuala Lumpur is a coder’s dream city, ranking 9th worldwide on software development and multimedia design. The city also has blazing-fast Wi-Fi and has become a standard haven for wandering digital nomads, largely attracted by a city teeming with incubators and innovative young workers.
The largest city in all of Oceania, Sydney has built a strong foundation in technology, largely in biotech and high-tech manufacturing, which makes up 11% of its economic output. Sydney also ranks 5th globally for internet access in education, widely available in the city’s school system.
Though the tech industry booms all across Canada, Toronto is its leader and one of the best tech cities in North America, ranking fifth for the amount of tech jobs, just behind Washington D.C., Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Boston. Globally, the city ranked eighth in terms of having a digitally prepared and integrated economy and sees growth in tech jobs leading the decrease in Canadian unemployment.
For decades (if not centuries), Berlin has been a major hub of medical technology advancements, partly due to Germany’s creation of the oldest universal health care system in the world. Berlin especially focuses on clean technology and high technology, fueled by its young, highly educated workforce and the country’s strong engineering skills.
Paris has been a global leader in technological advancement since its founding. Though initial changes such as glass in architecture and gas lights around the city brought the city to fame, modern-day advancements are constantly happening in its high-tech manufacturing industries primarily with optics and aerospace equipment.
Tokyo is widely recognized as one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world – and not just for its bullet train. The city hosts numerous technology summits and is at the forefront of software development. As the host of the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo plans to roll out a variety of high-tech features including driverless taxis and an artificial meteor shower.
Out of all the cities on our list, Chicago is one of the most devoted to promoting growth in the technology sector. The city government is pushing public-private partnerships and aims to equip its students with the skills needed to succeed in tech-based fields. In October 2015, the city won a federal grant to outfit every classroom with high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi as it endeavors to make computer science courses a graduation requirement.
Singapore wants to become known as the clean energy capital of the world, and it takes a lot of technology to do that. Home to research centers for many global companies such as Microsoft and Google, Singapore gives its citizens free high-speed internet. It also uses sophisticated technologies to charge residents based on the amount of time they spend on a toll road.
The second most prepared city for the digital economy, Los Angeles is also the third largest tech ecosystem in the United States, home to 12% of early-stage startups. Growing almost 30% faster than Silicon Valley, Tinseltown also has the highest amount of people employed in high-tech in the country. Now if we could just get Tony Stark’s Ironman suit to be a reality…
The Bay Area is a massive tech hub, home to companies such as Apple, eBay, and Tesla Motors. Rising to prominence during the 1990’s dot-com boom when thousands of startups launched in the city, San Francisco is renowned for its technology, as is nearby Silicon Valley: the global center of the IT and tech industries. Despite the Valley’s importance, many companies have been relocating to San Francisco as their workers clamor for a more vibrant, culturally-rich environment.
New York City
Most people would faster associate New York City with banking and Broadway than technology, but the city’s Silicon Alley is one of the strongest in the world, garnering over $7.3 billion worth of venture capital investment in high-tech. The city is even undergoing a massive fiberoptic telecommunications upgrade and is aiming to become the world’s foremost tech capital, largely supported by the in-progress Cornell Tech: a highly-advanced joint-venture graduate school of applied sciences.
The financial hub of Asia, Hong Kong has to be well-connected. Boasting one of the highest internet speeds in Asia, Hong Kong is one of the easiest places in the world to start a business. The government routinely funds innovation, giving away over $1.8 billion for science and technology R&D since 2011. This has helped the city become more futuristic; at some schools, students even check-in by fingerprint scanner.
The fastest growing technology hub in Europe, Stockholm is the startup capital of Europe. While most of the rest of Europe has been in the financial doldrums since 2008, Sweden has seen accelerating growth, largely thanks to its stable economy and highly-educated workforce. Amassing 15% of all European tech sector investment, Stockholm is home to some of the most recognized tech superstars such as Niklas Zennström of Skype, Martin Lorentzon of Spotify, and Daniel Ek of µTorrent.
The city of London takes a firm spot at the top of our list of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, though it shares the first place title with Seoul. Whereas Seoul has better broadband quality, the English capital wins out when it comes to multimedia design and technological readiness. In yet another reference to the Valley, London has Silicon Roundabout: the third-largest tech startup area in the world. The area has attracted the world’s largest tech companies, many of whom have created innovation hubs and research labs in the Central/East London cluster.
Seoul is the economic powerhouse of South Korea, producing 21% of national GDP while occupying less than 1% of the land mass. Home to tech giants such as Samsung and LG, Seoul has launched a “smart city” initiative, like Dubai. For a start, the city is giving out second-hand smart devices to low-income families, aiming to connect everyone to the city’s high-speed wireless networks. This high-tech hub even has intelligent CCTV cameras which can detect trespassing and high-tech street lamps which broadcast audio and give wireless internet access.