The Economist has recently released their Safe Cities Index for 2017. The report ranks 60 cities across 49 indicators covering digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security. And while it is focused on where people live, we find it a valuable asset for frequent travelers. Understanding how safe the cities you visit actually are, is quite important.
The ratings were first conceived in 2015 and though some things have changed in the intervening years, some trends remain with the main take away being that the world can be a dangerous place. The report again shows a sharp divide in overall levels of safety between the fast urbanizing developing world and the stagnant developed world. The top three cities in the index are unchanged from 2015, with Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka ranked first, second and third. Likewise, the remainder of the top ten continues to be comprised of mainly Asian and European cities; Toronto and Melbourne being the notable exceptions.
Jakarta, which ranked last in 2015, is 57th this year, pulled from the bottom by the addition of Karachi and other cities like Yangon and Dhaka. So Asian cities rank as the safest and least safest cities on the planet.
In the two years since The Economist published the inaugural Safe Cities Index, the world’s urban population is estimated to have grown by more than 150m people, raising the total number of people living in cities to above 4bn. More than 90% of the increase in urbanization over this period occurred in the developing world, where massive migration from rural areas has continued to accelerate. In the developed world, however, the size of most cities remained roughly the same, with some cities even beginning to shrink in those countries with ageing and declining populations. This creates distinct challenges for both developing and developed cities.
For the traveler, this list is important as it may help you identify risks when visiting various cities. Most people think Johannesburg can be dangerous but how many thought Kuala Lumpur was less safe than Washington or Buenos Aires? This list is a bit of a wake up call and a great resource to keep handy when you’re making travel plans.