The IMD Smart City Index 2023, based on the technological advancement of cities and their adaptation to the needs of their citizens, shows that Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, is the best performer, while Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is included in the ranking for the first time, and is ranked 65th out of 141 cities.
Vilnius’ technological advancements
According to Donatas Gudelis, Head of Product Development at ‘Vilniaus Planas,’ the company responsible for the digitization processes in Vilnius, Vilnius is technologically advanced and, in some cases, has even more to offer than the cities ranked higher in the index. “However, it is very important not only to introduce technology but also to look for the beneficial change it would bring to the population and how it would help the city develop sustainably and efficiently,” says Gudelis.
The Smart City Index assesses cities and their technological solutions in terms of how they are designed for people. Gudelis believes that Vilnius still has room to grow in this respect.
This year’s Smart City Index is led by Zurich (Switzerland), Oslo (Norway), Canberra (Australia), and Copenhagen (Denmark). Among European cities, Vilnius ranks 34th out of 57 continental cities in this ranking, behind Tallinn in the Baltic States.
According to Gudelis, although Vilnius is not in the top 30, it is ahead of Tallinn, the other Baltic capital, and Zurich, the leader in the ranking, in terms of some technological solutions.
For example, apps for real-time air quality monitoring and for dropping off unwanted items, which are widely used by residents in Vilnius, are rated very highly. Meanwhile, Tallinn is technologically ahead of Vilnius in terms of online voting in elections and online personal identification solutions.
Quality of life and infrastructure
“Vilnius is not far behind Zurich in terms of technology, but it is far ahead of the Lithuanian capital in terms of living environment and infrastructure solutions,” he says. For example, 59.5% of Vilnius and 74.7% of Zurich residents agreed with the statement in the ranking that security in public places in the city is sufficient. Only 18.4% of Vilnius and 39.2% of Zurich residents think that traffic congestion is not a problem.
According to the expert, Vilnius has a wide range of data that could be further exploited to create a better living environment for Vilnius residents. One way is to use data for multiple purposes.
As one of the biggest projects already implemented in the capital, Gudelis mentions the Vilnius City Data Centre, which collects data in various formats to create products that improve the quality of city life. Several public information portals have already been created from the data collected, allowing everyone to access the information they need about the city.
The Vilnius Historical Memory Portal ‘Vilniaus DNR’ allows for the analysis of historical data in various sections, while the ‘System of Cultural Heritage Structures and Architectural Elements,’ currently under development, will collect user-friendly information on heritage structures in the city, as well as detailed 3D photogrammetric images of the buildings. Last year, Vilnius unveiled ‘the City Lung project.’ It provides real-time monitoring of the capital’s air quality and pollen concentration in the capital. It is the first system in Lithuania to update air pollution and air quality data every minute and pollen concentrations in the city every hour.