Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo were selected as the 3 smartest cities in Latin America, according to the IESE Cities in Motion Index, prepared by the Globalization and Strategy Center of the IESE Business School. The report established that the Chilean capital obtained the 66th position in the list, while its Argentinean partner ranked 77th. Montevideo (92nd), San José de Costa Rica (112th), and Panama City (114th) completed the list of the 5 most intelligent cities in the region, according to the IESE research.

Regarding the regional situation, the IESE Cities in Motion Index maintains that over the years, leadership in Latin America has been divided between the two main cities. This year, Santiago de Chile has beaten Buenos Aires, since it has had a better evolution, and is among the 30 best for the dimensions of urban planning and the environment. It should be noted that Buenos Aires is among the 30 best in urban planning, environment, and international scope, but its poor position in the economy places it below Santiago in the general ranking.

Montevideo, San José, and Panama also stand out in the region. According to the list, most Latin American cities are below the 100th position in the general ranking, except Santiago, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo.

About the rest of the Latin American cities considered in the IESE Cities in Motion Index, Bogotá ranked 117 and Rosario 125. Rio de Janeiro (128), Brasilia (130), Sao Paulo (132), Mexico City (133), and Medellin (135) swell the regional list of the study, which also includes Córdoba (136), Quito (137), Lima (138), Santo Domingo (139) and Curitiba (140).

Meanwhile, Asunción (141), La Paz (145), Salvador de Bahía (146), Santa Cruz (147) and Cali (148) are at the bottom of the ranking, accompanied by Belo Horizonte (151), Guayaquil (152) and Guatemala City (160). Close the Caracas regional list, located at position 172.

The study states that Latin America is one of the regions with the highest urban concentration on the planet, so the challenges facing these cities are increasingly global, with problems common to all of them.

The smartest cities in the world

The two most intelligent cities in the world speak English, according to the sixth edition of the IESE Cities in Motion Index, although they are separated by an ocean and more than five thousand kilometers. The ranking developed by the Center for Globalization and Strategy of IESE puts London in the lead thanks to its excellent results in almost all the areas analyzed. In any case, it remains to be seen how Brexit will affect you shortly. New York occupies the second position thanks mainly to its economic leadership.

According to the report, led by IESE professors Pascual Berrone and Joan Enric Ricart, Europe dominates the top places of the ranking, since Amsterdam (3), Paris (4), Reykjavik (5), Copenhagen (8), Berlin (9) and Vienna (10) accompany London in the top ten, which is completed by two Asian cities: Tokyo (6) and Singapore (7).

And if we expand the focus to the top 50 positions, the dominance of Europe is still evident, since more than half of the cities (28) belong to this continent. They are followed at a great distance by North America, with 13; Asia, with five, and Oceania, with four. The best-ranked city in Oceania is Sydney, in the 19th position. Far more behind are the leaders of Latin America and Africa, which are Santiago de Chile, in 66, and Casablanca, in 155.

How to overcome the challenges

The index shows that the perfect city does not exist. Only a select group of cities, among which are London, Amsterdam, Seoul, and Vienna, can obtain good results in almost all the evaluated dimensions. Many other leading cities, however, lose the battle when trying to balance their performance in different areas. For example, some of them, such as New York, have great economic development, but they are not very socially coherent, which can generate conflicts and tensions between the different social strata.

In this sense, North American cities tend to stand out more in the economic and human capital areas, while European cities excel more in areas such as social cohesion, mobility, and public management. In the face of possible imbalances, the authors stress that cities should have a long-term vision to set the right priorities before getting down to work in the construction of their future.

The report notes that collaboration is the cornerstone of success. And defends citizen participation as a tool for transformation. Without a participatory and active society, any strategy, however intelligent and global, will be destined to fail.

About the study

The sixth edition of the ICIM includes the analysis of the level of development of 174 cities, nine more than the previous year, in nine dimensions considered key to its progress: economy, human capital, social cohesion, environment, governance, urban planning, international projection, technology and mobility, and transport. In addition to increasing the number of cities analyzed, new variables have been included for the analysis, such as the hourly wage, purchasing power, mortgage as a percentage of income, or if the city offers a favorable environment for the development of women.