In this Digital Age, part of what makes a great city is its connectedness to the Internet.
The growth of online business, smartphones with mobile applications, social networking, and GIS are instrumental in improving the quality of life in cities worldwide.
In New York City, for instance, GIS tracking was essential to delivering emergency services during Superstorm Sandy. In Tokyo and Seoul mobile banking is integral to everyday life. In Prague, Amsterdam, or Montreal youthful travelers easily keep in touch with home. The Internet, in short, is fundamental to urban life, and the more applications the better.
In this report, we at Future Cities have taken a look at the quality of Internet connectivity across cities worldwide, using the following criteria to let the cream rise to the top:
- Average Internet connection speed. Faster is, of course, better. We consulted the most recent "State of the Internet" report from online tracking firm Akamai for information on services in cities worldwide.
- Availability of citywide WiFi, preferably free and fast. Ubiquitous mobile communications demand cellular-based WiFi networks -- LTE (a.k.a. 4G LTE), WiMax, municipal broadband, and the like.
- Openness to innovation. Cities that accommodate startups are more likely to enjoy the benefits of early access to emerging technologies, along with the economic boosts that come with exciting young companies.
- Support of public data. Cities that open local data such as real estate records, 311 inquiries, location information, and various statistics to the public for creative use get our vote. Civic hackathons are a terrific vehicle for serving the public good via great city applications.
- Security and data privacy. It won't matter much if a city has great Internet connectivity if citizens' identities are being stolen online. To make this list, cities had to stand up in terms of security.
So without further ado, we present you with our list, in no particular order. Enjoy -- and tell us what you think on the message board!
(Note: All Internet speeds come from Akamai's report, "The State of the Internet, 1st Quarter, 2013." Salary ranges are in US dollars, and have come from sources including Indeed.com, Salary.com, SimplyHired.com, and PayScale.com.)
— Nicole Ferraro, Editor in Chief; Mary Jander, Managing Editor; and Rich Heap, Community Editor, UBM's Future Cities
Next page: Seoul