• Press Release
  • October 30, 2018

U.S. Cities Lead Globe in Digital Innovation, Says 2018 Report on Urban Sustainability

  • 100 cities scored based on three pillars of sustainability: People, Planet and Profit
  • New York City, San Francisco and Seattle in top 20 worldwide
  • Seattle is the epitome of a balanced city

Highlands Ranch, Colo. — Oct. 30, 2018 — It’s no secret that cities must seek ways to be attractive places for people to live, work and play. To do so is to ensure a long, healthy and prosperous future — a sustainable future.

A new report released today by Arcadis, the leading global design and consultancy firm for natural and built assets, reveals sustainability scores for 100 cities worldwide. Of the 22 U.S. cities highlighted, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle land in the global top 20 overall, with U.S. cities collectively leading the world in digital innovation.

Arcadis’ 2018 Sustainable Cities Index measures sustainability by assessing each city based on the three pillars of sustainability, which align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: People (social), Planet (environmental) and Profit (economic).

According to the report, “The foundations of city sustainability are an educated and healthy workforce, effective low-carbon infrastructure and ease of doing business.”

In the U.S., Seattle is the epitome of a balanced city, scoring in the top 25 worldwide in all three pillars of sustainability.

“Human needs are fundamentally hierarchical in nature,” said Peter Glus, Arcadis senior vice president and North American cities lead. “And if certain needs are not met – for example, housing is too expensive – then dissatisfaction will follow. The SCI and other studies show that even highly developed cities can struggle to meet the basic needs of their citizens.”

The 2018 report includes new digital indicators to capture the extent to which cities are using technology to improve quality of life for their citizens. When it comes to digital innovation, the report finds San Francisco best in the world, with many other U.S. cities following its lead.

Examples of successful urban digital tools include resiliency data for floods or super storms, digitized utility bills, personalized mobility applications for Mobility as a Service (MaaS), and advanced urban mobility options, including connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV).

No matter where a city falls on the digital spectrum today, the report indicates it’s crucial to prioritize digitization as part of long-term sustainability plans.

The report also looks at how citizens view their lifestyle in their respective cities. To do this, it introduces four city “clusters” that focus on the citizen experience:

  • Balanced Innovators
  • Post-Industrial Opportunists
  • Evolutionary Cities
  • Fast-growing Megacities

Clusters are based on an analysis of city living leveraging report data and an ethnographic study. Learn more about which cities fall in which cluster in the full 2018 Sustainable Cities Index.

Other key findings from the 2018 Sustainable Cities Index:

  • Of the three pillars, the U.S. fares best in the Profit pillar, with eight cities in the top 25 worldwide (the Profit pillar recognized cities with effective transportation infrastructure, strong economies and a solid business infrastructure).
  • New York City is first in the Profit pillar, primarily because of its strong economy and pro-business environment.
  • San Francisco sits atop the People pillar in the U.S., largely because of its advanced public transit offerings and leadership in digital innovation.
  • The Planet pillar shows mixed results for U.S. cities, due to typically below-average scores for energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and green space.
  • Citizen-centric research identified seven core needs that any city should aim to fulfill for its citizens to thrive: Basic needs, home, infrastructure, government, purpose, well-being and play.

Here’s how U.S. cities fared in the overall global index:

14. New York City
16. San Francisco
19. Seattle
22. Boston
39. Washington
45. Los Angeles
48. Chicago
51. Houston
52. Philadelphia
53. Denver
55. Honolulu
59. Dallas
60. Pittsburgh
61. New Orleans
63. Miami
64. Indianapolis
65. Jacksonville
68. Baltimore
69. Phoenix
70. Atlanta
71. Detroit
72. Tampa

Click here to view or download the full report. The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index was compiled for Arcadis by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr).

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Jimmy Luthye

Corporate Communications 303 471 3592 Ask me a question