Transport is a key element of smart cities, with effective transport systems offering the potential to reduce or eliminate congestion and make it easy for people to get around.
A new study from the Future Spaces Foundation looks in detail at the transport infrastructure of 12 cities around the world, analysing some of the factors that help cities thrive, such as breathability, bike and foot networks, use of data, and apps.
Researchers used a mix of qualitative assessments, such as the strength of electric vehicle policies, together with hard data, such as the density of transit networks in each city, to compile the Vital Cities: Transport Systems Scorecard.
Scores for more than 30 individual measures were aggregated to award an overall grade between A and F and the cities were grouped into four categories: Global Cities (London, New York, Hong Kong), Mega Cities (Beijing, Mumbai, Sao Paulo), Green Cities (Copenhagen, Singapore, Vancouver) and Car Cities (Dubai, Houston, Kuala Lumpur).
Overall, the Danish capital city of Copenhagen was declared the most ‘vital’ city with a score of B+ thanks to its strong sustainability, cycling and mobility credentials.
Meanwhile, long-term investment and an ability to adapt to the growing consumer demand for real-time information with innovative data policies have helped Global Cities like London gain pace, the researchers said.
Car Cities were found to be lagging behind, with all receiving a D or D- grade overall due to their poor efforts to curb car use and promote vehicle-sharing, walking and cycling.
Mega Cities — growing rapidly as a result of industrialisation and mass migration from rural areas — face a major challenge to improve networks and ensure that basic infrastructure meets demand. But according to Future Spaces Foundation, innovative new uses of data and apps to improve connectivity in a cost-effective way is helping these cities to gain pace with global competitors.
Ken Shuttleworth, chairman of the Future Spaces Foundation, said: “We believe that for cities to thrive, well-networked, efficient, safe and sustainable transport networks are paramount. These equip them to meet the needs of rising and fast-changing populations, limit their environmental impact, and enhance the ability of local residents and enterprises to interact, exchange and innovate.
“Put simply, the chances of a city’s economic and social success are vastly improved when its connections — pedestrian, bike, vehicle and public transport — are simple, comfortable, safe, and affordable.”
He added: “Of course, as our research shows, no city is perfect when it comes to connectivity. The Vital Cities: Transport Systems Scorecard has identified some of the key areas — such as good public transport provision, accessibility, affordability and safety — that are essential for a city to be regarded as truly connected.
“We hope cities across the world will be able to benefit from the insights we’ve developed, learning from one another to become truly connected and vital.”