DestinationsOne European city has beaten Asia's safe havens Singapore and Tokyo.

Neighbourhood watch: Which cities are the world's safest?

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Copenhagen topped the ranking for the first time as a safe city.
Copenhagen topped the ranking for the first time as a safe city. Photo Credit: Getty Images/william87

The Covid pandemic has placed extra pressure on global cities to keep their citizens safe with digital security and environmental security, now key components of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) biennial Safe Cities Index.

The index ranks 60 cities across 76 indicators of security, with a particular focus on five pillars of urban security — digital, health, infrastructure, personal and environmental.

The 2021 ranking has a new city at No 1 — Denmark’s capital Copenhagen — which managed to squeeze ahead of perennial safe havens Tokyo and Singapore.

This year Copenhagen scored 82.4 points out of 100. Toronto was not far behind with 82.2.

In all four editions of EIU’s index, six cities – Amsterdam, Melbourne, Tokyo, Toronto, Singapore and Sydney – have all figured among the leading 10.

Copenhagen has been included in the index since only 2019, when it tied for 8th place.

The world’s top 10 safest cities 2021

  1. Copenhagen
  2. Toronto
  3. Singapore
  4. Sydney
  5. Tokyo
  6. Amsterdam
  7. Wellington
  8. Hong Kong
  9. Melbourne
  10. Stockholm

Leaders in digital security: Sydney, Singapore, Copenhagen, Los Angeles and San Francisco

Leaders in health security: Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Osaka

Leaders in infrastructure security: Hong Kong, Singapore, Copenhagen, Toronto and Tokyo

Leaders in personal security: Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Stockholm and Brussels

Leaders in environmental security: Wellington, Toronto, Washington DC, Bogota and Milan

In its commentary on the rankings, EIU warns that digital security at the city level is too often insufficient for current needs and “insecurity will multiply as urban areas increasingly pursue smart city ambitions”, while personal security “is a matter of social capital and co-creation”.

“Our index figures show that personal security scores correlate closely with HDI (Human Development Index) figures for cities,” EIU says.

“A closer look yields a less predictable result. A few cities, in particular Singapore, seem to combine low levels of inputs with excellent results in this field, when it comes to judicial system capacity and crime levels.

“One way that these various cities can accomplish apparently doing more with less is higher levels of social capital and cohesion.

“The resultant sense of connectedness, shared values, and community also allows greater co-creation of security with citizens.

“The latter not only multiplies the efforts of city authorities to improve personal security, but it also helps define security in ways that are more meaningful to residents,” EIU notes.

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