Chicago ranked internationally as a top smart city

by Emma Ludman

Apparently municipal efforts to securing Chicago’s rank as a globally renowned smart city are paying off. A report released earlier this month by ESI Thought Lab named Chicago as a leader in hyper connectivity and technological implementation.

The research firm focused on economic and technological trends at a global scale, and its resulting summary ranked 171 of the world’s leading smart cities based on their annual return on investment in hyper-connectivity. ESI collected the data through interviews with each of the city’s top government officials.

Out of the twenty-three U.S. cities who were deemed “Top Globally Connected” by the researchers, Chicago ranked in the top five.

The report defined hyper-connectivity as a city’s ability to leverage four technological attributes — implementation of technology, cybersecurity, data and analytics, and having connected citizens — in ways that would best serve its residents. Chicago found its success due to the city’s effort to stay updated on technological trends, a category in which Chicago ranked No. 8 globally. Essentially, this means that over the past year, Chicago has been a leader in the application of technologies such as artificial intelligence, biometrics, the cloud, and IoT, or city-wide Wi-Fi. Chicago also placed No. 10 in a global ranking of cities with the highest citizen connectivity, meaning that Chicagoans have a high engagement rate when it comes to communication and providing feedback.

Becoming a ‘Top Globally Connected Leader’ implies that both Chicago’s citizens, as well as its governmental infrastructure, are dedicated to competing on a global technological scale. But also, the report detailed the economic benefits that come with this dedication. “As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, becoming a smart city is no longer enough,” concluded researchers at ESI. “To unlock the full economic, social, environmental and business value from technology, cities need to morph into hyperconnected urban centers.” This theme was a constant throughout the study as researchers explained a city’s potential to increase their ROI by up to 4 percent if they ensured they were utilizing hyperconnected technologies to their full potential.

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