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Under the digital security pillar, Sydney led the category followed by Singapore, Copenhagen, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Under this category, Kuala Lumpur ranked 35th place. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Under the digital security pillar, Sydney led the category followed by Singapore, Copenhagen, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Under this category, Kuala Lumpur ranked 35th place. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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PETALING JAYA, Aug 23 — Kuala Lumpur made it to the 32nd place among 60 other cities in the Safe Cities Index 2021 released today by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU), improving slightly from the 35th position it occupied in 2019.

The Safe Cities Index 2021 ranks 60 cities across 76 indicators covering digital, health, infrastructure, personal and environmental security, the EIU said.

Among the 60 cities polled, Copenhagen topped the list with 82.4 points out of 100, followed by Toronto at 82.2 points, Singapore at 80.7, Sydney at 80.1 and Tokyo 80.0.

“Kuala Lumpur’s overall points were 66.6,” the report said.

Digital security in KL still low

Under the digital security pillar, Sydney led the category followed by Singapore, Copenhagen, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Under this category, Kuala Lumpur ranked 35th place. 

According to EIU, 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.

The index data showed that internet connectivity is becoming ubiquitous, even in the lower-middle-income cities, and could be effectively universal within a decade.

Meanwhile, 59 out of 60 cities have started the process of becoming a smart city or have expressed ambition.

“This makes current levels of digital security worrying.

“To cite two examples from our figures, only around a quarter of urban governments have public-private digital security partnerships and a similarly small number look at network security in detail in their smart city plans.

“Such data are representative, not exceptional,” said assistant professor of civil and systems engineering at Johns Hopkins University Gregory Falco who is part of the EIU team. 

He also noted that the digital security of cities is generally “pretty terrible”.

More holistic approach for health security

As for the health security pillar, Tokyo led the category followed by Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Osaka. Under this category, Kuala Lumpur ranked 38th.

In the report, the EIU said the experience of Covid-19 showed the need for a more holistic approach to health security and its closer integration into urban resilience planning.

The EIU said that there is a need to rethink health system preparedness, whether they are already clear and this must have several elements.

Little change for infrastructure security

Although the EIU index data showed little change in various infrastructure security metrics, experts reported that Covid-19 has brought this field to a fundamental inflection point.

Accordingly, certain indicator results, such as those covering power and rail networks, showed little change.

“This stability does not reflect the current state of this field. Covid-19 has brought a level of uncertainty around the likely demands on urban infrastructure — and therefore how to keep it secure,” said Adie Tomer, leader of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative.

“It is unclear the extent to which lockdown-associated developments will diminish, or accelerate when the pandemic ends.

“Greater levels of working from home, increased digitalisation of commerce, and growing resident demands for more sustainable urban communities with services within walking or cycling reach all have extensive infrastructure implications,” said Tomer.

Under this category, Hong Kong took the lead followed by Singapore, Copenhagen, Toronto and Tokyo, while Kuala Lumpur ranked 37.

Environmental security implementation

According to EIU, while they found that most cities have strong environmental policies, they must now deliver results.

“Unlike other pillars, low- and middle-income cities often do well on environmental security. Bogota, for example, comes fourth overall.

“One explanation is that good environmental policy is widespread.

“The challenge, though, remains in the implementation,” said the EIU.

Under this category, Kuala Lumpur ranked 10th after Wellington, Toronto, Washington DC, Bogota and Milan.

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