Health security is why Singapore lost World’s Safest City to Tokyo – and it’s also the category it scored the lowest in

Singapore is the second safest city in the world again, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit.
The Straits Times

Tokyo has once again been named the safest city in the world, beating Singapore by a mere 0.5 points on the Safe Cities Index 2019 published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

This is the third year the index has been compiled, and also the third time Tokyo has edged out the Lion City to claim the top spot. The Republic had also been ranked second in the 2015 and 2017 iterations of the index.

A total of 60 cities were studied across 57 indicators covering four pillars – digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security report – in the latest report, which was sponsored by Japanese IT giant NEC Corporation.

The EIU said that its latest report, unveiled on Thursday (August 29), included a major revision to better measure “urban resilience“, or the ability of a city to absorb and bounce back from shocks.

And while Asia Pacific cities dominated six spots out of the top 10, EIU said that geographic region did not have any statistical link with results. “Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka lead because of their specific strengths, not because they happen to be in Asia,” the report said.

The top 20 on the EIU’s Safe Cities Index 2019
The Economist Intelligence Unit

The EIU also found that a city’s performance in any one of the pillars is correlated to how it does in the other pillars. “This is consistent with expert commentary that, rather than representing clearly distinct fields, different kinds of safety are thoroughly intertwined and mutually supportive,” it said.

As the best performers on the list, Tokyo and Singapore were among the top 10 across all four pillars measured, with Singapore topping two out of four pillars and Tokyo topping just one.

The top 10 for each pillar measured by EIU for its Safe Cities Index 2019.
The Economist Intelligence Unit

However, when it came to health security, both scored lower than Osaka, which emerged at the top. And while Tokyo followed closely behind in second place, health security was Singapore’s weakest pillar, as it ranked eighth with a score of 80.9 over 100.

According to EIU, the top five cities in the health security pillar scored well in areas such as healthcare access and quality, safe food, water and air, and speed of emergency services.

Areas where Singapore fared the best were infrastructure security and personal security, both of which saw Tokyo coming in at fourth place.

Topping the infrastructure security pillar meant Singapore had good policy, and scored full marks for continuity management plans, pedestrian friendliness, institutional capacity and disaster-risk informed development.

In the personal security pillar, it scored full marks for policing-related indicators: level of engagement, community-based patrolling and use of data-driven techniques.

The only pillar in which Tokyo was ranked first was digital security, where Singapore was the runner-up. All of the top five in this pillar had low levels of infection by computer viruses and malware, EIU said.

The only pillar in which Tokyo was ranked first was digital security, where Singapore was the runner-up.

The report added that cities with higher average incomes tended to have better results on the overall index, not only indicating a need to invest substantial amounts in areas essential to security, but also highlighting a tendency of cities with less wealth to lack policy ambition.

The top five cities “got the basics right” in each area, it said, adding that “those who want to improve need to get the basics in place and then consider their own specific situations”.