Sustainable Cities Index 2018

Citizen Centric Cities

The 2018 edition of Arcadis’ Sustainable Cities Index (SCI) explores city sustainability from the perspective of the citizen. We seek to understand in more depth how different cities meet the needs of their citizens.

Sustainable Cities Index 2018 – North America

The Index highlights that emerging needs, such as digital connectivity, are being addressed in U.S. cities at all levels of sustainability.

The research features new work on city archetypes and clusters aimed at explaining the implications of a citizen’s experience.

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Explaining patterns of city sustainability

City Clusters

To provide greater insight into the factors that influence city development and performance, we have developed a deeper understanding of how citizens and cities relate. This insight is derived from city archetypes based on urban ethnographic research into how cities are evolving and the experience of the citizens living within them. The results of this research is a set of four city clusters.

Balanced Innovators

The key citizen experiences associated with this profile are convenience and security associated with Automation and Sensing and high quality of life associated with an absence of Disruption as well as the infrastructure necessary for a Connected city.

Post-industrial Opportunists

Citizen experiences supported by a growing role of technology are mostly positive but might potentially be undermined by the impact of automation on legacy employment. Cities that match this profile have a more balanced economy so are less likely to be faced with the economic dislocation that has been seen in some recession-hit cities such as Detroit.

Evolutionary Cities

Core citizen experiences in these cities are focused on aspects of informal entrepreneurialism - articulated possibly as micro-enterprise or alternatively as community self-help.

Fast-growing Megacities

Citizen experiences include high levels of informal economic activity as well as the powerful influence of enterprise – often directed by the state to deliver development and services.

New York City

Balanced Innovators



The city that never sleeps is North America’s economic leader. Driven by a diverse, interconnected citizen experience, New York City draws business and tourism from across the globe. Home to the world’s largest stock exchange, New York’s healthy economic development and unmatched ease of doing business scores bolster the city’s reputation as a global financial leader. The city’s economy is flourishing, but some citizens struggle with affordability and income inequality.

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San Francisco

Balanced Innovators



San Francisco is a tech hub at the forefront of digital implementation. Its citizen experience rests in the city’s automation capabilities and data-driven service economy. Residents enjoy accessible public transportation solutions linked to mobile apps that allows them to easily assess, track, and pay for their transit options. Addressing issues with homelessness could bolster San Francisco’s Profit score. Not only does it dampen employment scores, it hurts some aspects of tourism.

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Chicago

Post-industrial opportunist



Chicago is an economic powerhouse. But it must refine the Planet- and People-focused aspects of its citizen experience to create a more sustainable, competitive future. Home to a large, diverse economy, Chicago leverages strong connectivity and an ease of doing business into a position as a Profit leader. But Chicago’s struggles with violent crime mars the citizen experience and drags down the city’s People score. Each problem presents its own unique challenges that the city must address to bolster its sustainability.

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Los Angeles

Post-industrial opportunist



Los Angeles is a top-10 performer in the Profit and People sub-indexes. Evolving its transit system and addressing environmental issues could ensure a more sustainable future. Visitors might be drawn to the glitz of the Hollywood hills, but industry leaders in manufacturing, tech, aerospace, and entertainment have made L.A. a permanent home. However, the city’s Planet problems are manifold. Exposure to natural disasters such as droughts, earthquakes, and extreme temperature is exacerbated by inadequate natural disaster warning systems.

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Peter Glus

City Executive New York +1 718 397 2378 Ask me a question

Peter Wijsman

City Executive San Francisco +1 415 432 6909 Ask me a question

LeeAnn Tomas-Foster

City Executive Chicago +1 312 874 3009 Ask me a question

Macaria Flores

City Executive Los Angeles +1 213 797 5277 Ask me a question
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