Tokyo has again been named the world’s safest city by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), in a ranking of the digital, health, infrastructure and personal security of 60 major metropolitan areas.

Singapore came in second, followed by Osaka in third place in the Safe Cities Index 2019.

Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka also took the top three spots in the two previous editions of the Safe Cities Index in 2015 and 2017.

Though Asia-Pacific cities made up six of this year’s top 10 – with Sydney (5th), Seoul (tied 8th) and Melbourne (10th) – the report emphasizes that urban safety is not related to region.

“Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka are not safer because they happen to be in Asia, but because of the specific urban environments their residents and officials have built,” it says.

What's the World Economic Forum doing about the future of cities?

Cities represent humanity's greatest achievements - and greatest challenges. From inequality to air pollution, poorly designed cities are feeling the strain as 68% of humanity is predicted to live in urban areas by 2050.

The World Economic Forum supports a number of projects designed to make cities cleaner, greener and more inclusive.

These include hosting the Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization, which gathers bright ideas from around the world to inspire city leaders, and running the Future of Urban Development and Services initiative. The latter focuses on how themes such as the circular economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution can be harnessed to create better cities. To shed light on the housing crisis, the Forum has produced the report Making Affordable Housing a Reality in Cities.

Cities that did well overall tend to have high-quality healthcare, dedicated cybersecurity teams, community-based police and disaster continuity planning, according to the report.

Rounding out the top 10 are two European cities, Amsterdam (4th) and Copenhagen (tied 8th), and two in North America, Toronto (6th) and Washington, DC (7th).

Urban resilience

This year’s edition also looked at “urban resilience” - the ability of a city to absorb and bounce back from shocks.

The concept has become an important part of urban safety planning, particularly as policy-makers prepare for the likely impacts of climate change on cities, such as increased flooding and more frequent and intense heatwaves.

The 2019 index measures for the first time things like the speed of a city's emergency services, the existence of a disaster plan, the ability to defend infrastructure against cyber attacks, and the monitoring of potential hazards.

By 2050, more than two-thirds (68%) of the world’s population will be living in urban areas, up from 55% today, according to United Nations projections.

Much of this rapid urbanization will take place in Asia and Africa.

The UN has called for more sustainable urban planning and public services to meet the challenges of urban growth, especially in low- and middle-income countries.