Smart cities are places where services are made more efficient using digital and telecommunication technologies. This translates into more sustainable, livable, and accessible cities which benefit residents, local businesses and visitors.
Last September, the Institute for Management and Development (IMD), in collaboration with Singapore University for Technology and Design (SUTD), has released the 2020 Smart City Index that includes 109 cities from all around the world. The ranking is based on economic and technological data, as well as on citizens’ perceptions of how smart their cities are. The five key areas analyzed to assess the level of smartness include health and safety, mobility, activities, opportunities and governance: they are all factors that inevitably affect tourist flows.
As in the previous edition of the Smart City Index, Singapore is again on top of the ranking. Some of the key factors that contributed to this successful result include: the access to free public housing; smart mobility, such as the development and pilot testing of driverless vehicles; outstanding health standards and a very high level of safety; and convenient administrative services.
Recently, Singapore has launched a smart initiative regarding the tourism sector: the Singapore Tourism Accelerator (STA). It is a selective 6-month program dedicated to the most promising technology startups that can benefit the travel and tourism sector. The Singapore Tourism Accelerator program is organized by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and its partner, Found8. The program aims to help start-ups to develop solutions for the future travel and tourism industry, which can help tourism companies overcoming the challenges brought by COVID-19. Some examples of possible innovations include contactless solutions, social distancing and crowd management technology, sanitation and hygiene innovations, virtual MICE, hospitality robotics/automation.
Helsinki is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, with a growing reputation for high-tech services and eco-friendly practices. For this reason, the city has become a smart sustainable destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. Thanks to its commitment, the city has won the title of European Capital of Smart Tourism 2019.
One of the best tourism-related good practice is the MyHelsinki.fi website, a platform that includes recommendations and tips for visitors from the locals. The website features a section dedicated to sustainability, which aims to help users making more sustainable lifestyle choices.
The third place is held by Zurich, a Swiss city that is internationally known for its high quality of life. The city scored particularly well in the healthcare and safety category, thanks to outstanding results in sanitation, recycling services, public safety and medical services. The public transport system and the quality of education and learning opportunities also contributed to the success of Zurich.
In the tourism sector, an excellent and smart tool is the Zürich Card, a city travel pass that helps visitors saving time and money by offering numerous benefits such as unlimited use of public transport, free or reduced admissions in 43 museums, discounts on walking tours and more. The card can be purchased in the Zürich City Guide Apps, which provides information about discounts and benefits in four different languages (English, German, French, and Italian).