Leading countries in building ‘smart cities’

Innovation and sustainability: these two key factors have shaped some of the smartest cities around the world to embrace the future by taking on a more holistic yet inventive approach to building communities, bolstering the economy, streamlining industrial activities, improving public services, and responding to the demands of a high-tech driven population today and in the future.

Creating smart cities was once a vision for technology companies to offer more products and services to consumers in a growing urban setting. However, leaders of these cities started redefining what a “smart city” should be and it led to a more modernized way of how a technologically competitive urban community should holistically respond to the needs of its growing population. How? Let’s take a look at the leading countries in building smart cities to answer that question.


Image source: asiagreenbuildings.com

This island-city state has been named the world’s ‘smartest city’ in many occasions because of its Smart Nation Platform that aims to collect millions of data from a nationwide sensor network. In addition to that, a remarkably 98 percent of government services can be accessed online while its mobile apps-friendly systems have improved transport, health, and municipal services.


Image source: photodeck.com

The country is world-famous not only because of its classical art and majestic ruins but also for its beautiful Barcelona, dubbed as the most wired city in the world. This is because of its impressive computer system fitted to lampposts that can measure traffic levels, crowds, road pollution and last but not the least—the number of photos of specific streets posted on Instagram, thanks to the sensors installed in every part of the city.

United Kingdom

Image source: bnet.com

England’s London has made it to several ‘smart city’ rankings in the past and even if it continues to grow and age, it has been recognized for its pioneering use of open data, the London DataStore, to create and champion innovative solutions to solve the city’s challenges in urban development and tourism management. These resulted in the birth of smart solutions like transport apps, population and demographic projections, interactive maps, and many more.

The top countries in innovation economics

In the past, a country’s economic growth was defined by two key indicators: first, how the market responds to price signals depending on the supply and demand curves; second, how the government effectively allocates its resources. However, everything changed when technology came into the picture and eventually gave birth to what we now know as innovation economics—dramatically shifting the focus of societies around the world.


Image source: businessdestinations.com


Innovation is a key driver of economic growth and some countries are leading the list of the world’s most innovative economies. This year, the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index just named the dominating nations in the annual battle of ideas.


South Korea maintained its number one spot in the international chart, dominating the ranks in Research and Development Intensity, patent activity, and value-added manufacturing. The country was also included in the top 5 ranking in higher education and research concentration, and high-tech density.


Sweden’s success to secure No. 2 can be credited to its improvement on the manufacturing value added metric. It’s Nordic cousin, Finland, did an impressive advance when it cracked into the top 5, thanks to the rise of high-technology firms in the country. Israel, meanwhile, made it to the top ten—a one rank progress from its No. 11 spot in 2016.


Image source: chief-exec.com


Although the technology giant Japan lost its No. 4 spot to Switzerland and moved down to the seventh rank, the 2017 index shows that it still remains one of the top five countries for productivity and tertiary efficiency. Germany, Switzerland, and Singapore took the third, fourth and sixth spot, respectively,


To see the full ranking list, click here.

REPOST: How to fix climate change: put cities, not countries, in charge

Addressing global environmental crises such as pollution and climate change may be best done on a local level. This article on The Guardian explains why it is high time for cities and similar administrative units to take on greater roles in catalyzing drives toward environmental preservation and sustainability.


Illustration by Jasper Rietman


Climate change is the most urgent challenge facing humankind. Other issues make headlines: terrorism kills; inequality affects everyday life for billions around the globe. But climate is paramount, because in sustainability human survival itself is at stake. Why then have the nations governing the planet been so hopelessly ineffective in addressing the grave environmental crisis?


Is it because the consequences of carbon emissions seem hypothetical, or too far off? Politicians pay few costs for doing nothing, and receive little credit for acting aggressively. In the US, a nation that contributes one-fifth of all global greenhouse emissions (China is responsible for another fifth), Donald Trump has promised to reopen coal mines and free up oil drilling.


The problem isn’t the science. The merchants of doubt who claim there is a climate science that is open to scientific debate are not scientific adversaries at all. They are political adversaries, mostly bought and paid for. It is in the realm of politics that the struggle for sustainability must be fought and won.


Politics is hardly at its best right now, and that is perhaps the greatest challenge facing us. The weakness of politics undermines democracy – the faith behind politics. But democracy is crucial because climate change is also about justice: how to distribute the costs of decarbonisation and the transition to renewable energy fairly among rich and poor, developed and developing, large and small, north and south.


This politics can’t be found in increasingly dysfunctional nation states. The good news about the attempt to address climate change through government action is that it’s happening. The bad news is that it’s happening far too slowly. For every new hydroelectric plant built in the global north, some enormous lake dries up in the global south – Poopó, Bolivia’s second largest, has literally vanished over the last few years.


Continue reading HERE.

The world in peril: More cities succumbing to climate change

One of the main drivers of climate change is human activity. Industrial plants, car fumes, and all sorts of wastes just keep on accumulating at an alarming rate. It is no surprise that for the past couple of years, climate change has accelerated. More and more instances of extreme weather are being observed in many settlements, including capital cities and major metropolitan areas. That’s why some governments are actively putting in the work to increase their resilience. These regions include Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. However, some cities aren’t so lucky.


One of the most vulnerable cities to environmental inconsistencies is Jakarta, Indonesia. Urbanization and land utilization are already almost maxed out, which translates into an distressing increase in carbon dioxide emissions and deforestation. Furthermore, its geographical proximity to the ocean makes it highly susceptible to the rising sea levels. Floods are already a recurrent problem. Incurred losses could easily reach beyond $500,000, affecting both farming and fishing livelihoods.


Image source: time.com


Another area which is prone to Mother Nature’s wrath is Dhaka, Bangladesh. Since it is one of the biggest deltaic regions in the world, the rising sea level and increased rainfall will make it highly vulnerable to flooding. As a matter of fact, as much as 80 percent of the area could be submerged in water.


Back in 2010, Mumbai, India, experienced its highest rainfall density in a span of 24 hours. More than 700 lives perished in the flood that submerged the busy city. Property damage was estimated to be at $68 million. With incidences like these occurring more often, a lifestyle check is in order.


Image source: inhabitat.com


Climate change can have massive impacts on various sectors, eventually leading to economic collapse and human peril. It can drive various health problems (including malaria, diarrhea, and leptospirosis outbreaks), displacement due to floods and sea-level rise, large-scale property damage, biodiversity loss, widespread famine, and even dents on stock markets. The total costs of all these impacts have been found to be enormous, costing the world more than $1.2 trillion a year and wiping 1.6 percent annually from global GDP. This is one of the reasons many companies and governments have been very active in promoting green technologies and in promoting environmentally friendly industrial and household activities to lessen, slow down, or even completely eradicate the potential hazards climate change can bring.

REPOST: The 9 best countries in the world to start a business

Planning to establish a business outside your country? Here are nine excellent choices for you, according to Business Insider:



Countries in central and northern Europe dominate a global ranking of the best places to start a business — although a central American state tops the list.


The index, compiled by Wharton University and market research firm Y&R, evaluates a total of 80 countries which collectively account for 95% of global gross domestic product.


The overall ranking considers a wide range of factors to create an overall “best countries” index, including entrepreneurship, heritage, quality of life, and openness for business.


Business Insider took a look at the “openness for business” subindex, which considers a range of factors including the price of manufacturing costs, levels of bureaucracy, tax environment, transparency of government practices, and the extent of corruption.


View the complete list HERE.

A unique Caribbean experience: Laidback and unspoiled Vieques

One of the most popular holiday destinations for spring breakers and families alike are the Caribbean Islands. It consists of an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, a large arm of the Atlantic Ocean. Because of their natural beauty, year after year hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to these islands. The clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, and warm tropical climate make them a year-round summer destination. However, there are some vacation-goers who may shy away from the Caribbean because of the large crowds. Luckily, there is an island in the Caribbean which is just perfect for their preferences.


Image source: vieques.com 


The Vieques is a 21-mile long and 4-mile wide island.  In terms of land area, it is very identical to the nearby (and more popular) Saint Martin.  The main difference lies in the number of tourists. Annually, 70,000 people visit Vieques, while its neighboring island would easily number in the millions. For the former, the numbers can only mean two things: unspoilt beaches and a lot of elbow room. Plus, it’s one of the very few islands in the world to have a bioluminescent bay, a beach that glows neon blue every night.


Granted, Vieques is not one of the most known or most luxurious islands in the Caribbean, but it can give tourists a different kind of experience that can’t be found anywhere else. They have an ocean so blue and so clear that you can see right to the bottom. It’s also perfect for sailing on one’s very own boat, drinking out in the open sea while grilling a sumptuous steak. Since there aren’t a lot of people on the beach, visitors will be able to feel like they have their very own private Caribbean beach.


Image source: bluehorizonboutiqueresort.com


The likes of Bermuda, Dominica, and the British Virgin Islands are also stunning places to visit, with relatively fewer visitors compared to the likes of Cuba and Dominican Republic but with equally gorgeous natural scenery to boast of. In addition, these are islands with thriving financial industries, which means that they have well-developed infrastructure and First World-level public services.