Manila’s ranking in the IMD Smart City Index fell 10 places this year to 104th, near the bottom of the 109 roster of cities surveyed.
Manila’s grade from C last year to D, the lowest.
From a list of 15 indicators, respondents in the Philippines identified road congestion, corruption, health care, air pollution and unemployment as the top five areas that need to be addressed.
Other factors cited by the respondents include basic amenities ,public transport, security, fulfilling employment, affordable housing, green spaces, school education, recycling, social mobility and citizen engagement.
The IMD Smart City Index ranks cities based on economic and technological data, as well as by their citizens’ perceptions of how “smart” their cities are. The “smarter” a city is, the more it balances economic and technological aspects with humane ones.
The key findings also reflect on how technology is playing a role in the COVID-19 era as the survey was done between April and May; those with better technology manage the pandemic better.
IMD said the diverse performance of cities in the Southeast Asia is rooted in the different levels of both economic development and technological infrastructure among these cities.
IMD cited Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur which enjoy basic and technological infrastructures superior to those available in Makassar, Ho Chi Min City, or Manila.
“These structural differences have been exacerbated in citizen’s perceptions about the smartness of their city during the COVID pandemic. Cities that could rely on reliable networks and services managed to better address and satisfy the needs of their citizens compared to those lacking such ecosystems,” IMD said in a statement,
The rankings also showed the performance of Southeast Asian cities are not uniform this year:. Cities like Bangkok (+4) and Kuala Lumpur (+16) perform much better than in 2019. In contrast, Hanoi (-18), Ho Chi Minh City (-18), Jakarta (-13), Makassar (-16) and Manila (-10) drop significantly.
Respondents were asked questions on the technological provisions of their city across five key areas: health and safety, mobility, activities, opportunities, and governance.
Manila’s findings are consistent with those in developing economies whose citizens consistently identified air pollution and road congestion as a major problem, while also highlighting security and corruption.