Karachi makes it safest cities list as normalcy returns

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Karachi, the seaside metropolis of Pakistan, has made – though at bottom – to the list of sixty safest cities of the world, it emerged on Friday.

Besides Pakistan countries from Asia and the Middle East and Africa dominate the bottom of the index. These also include Dhaka and Yangon, with Pakistan at sixtieth number in the list. Of the ten cities at the bottom of the overall index, three are in South-east Asia – Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta, two are in South Asia – Dhaka and Karachi, and two are in the Middle East and Africa – Cairo and Tehran.

Tokyo, capital of Japan, has been named the safest city in the world once again in this Safe Cities Index 2017, a report compiled by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU; the research and analysis division of The Economist Group of Britain) and sponsored by NEC Corporation.

Tokyo previously earned the overall number one spot in 2015.

“Security remains closely linked to wealth but the scores of high-income cities are falling: While cities in developed economies dominate the top half of the index (with the lower half dominated by cities in poorer countries), of the 14 cities in high-income countries, the security scores of ten have fallen since 2015,” according to the report.

Income is not the only factor governing city performance on security: Most of the cities in the top ten of the index are high-income or upper middle-income cities. However, two high-income cities in the Middle East – Jeddah and Riyadh – fall below position 40 in the index.

Similarly, it was growing violence against women in Delhi, particularly the gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student on a Delhi bus, that prompted Elsa D’Silva, a former airline executive who left the industry to focus on women’s issues, to work with her co-founders.

Mobile devices become safety tools on developing the Safe city app, through which women in the city can exchange stories of harassment and upload photos or videos to provide details of where, when and what happened.

Meanwhile, the lowest part of the list is dominated by lower-income cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Manila, Yangon, Karachi and Dhaka all feature in the bottom ten in this category.

Globally, massive amounts of investment will be required to upgrade old infrastructure. However, even when sufficient funds are spent on urban infrastructure, its resilience depends on the quality of operations, says Dan Lewis, chief of the Urban Risk Reduction Unit at UN Habitat.

“Any infrastructure functions directly as a consequence of who manages it,” says Mr. Lewis, who is also head of the City Resilience Profiling Program at UN Habitat. “In some places, the infrastructure is poor but governance, management and regulatory frameworks are good. In other cases, you have good infrastructure but limited management capacity.”

While municipal leaders must focus on a number of factors when investing in city security, many of them are linked. For example, cyber-attacks can disrupt systems such as the city’s power and water supply, making digital security critical to infrastructure security.

The resilience and quality of such physical infrastructure, in turn, influence the prevalence of chronic conditions such as respiratory disease, as well as the level of traffic- related injury and mortality that takes place in the city, and thus health security.

Urban authorities, therefore, need to tackle city security using a holistic approach. This is not always easy, given entrenched departmental silos between different municipal agencies in many cities. With stretched financial resources, urban leaders may find themselves having to make tough decisions between competing demands such as health, policing and cyber security investments.

Priorities may vary from region to region. For example, while improvements in road infrastructure and transportation systems could reduce injury and death in many African cities, Latin American cities need to focus on fighting crime and violence. Meanwhile, in Europe, these issues are less pressing than the need to address mass migration and youth unemployment, both of which pose threats to social cohesion.

However, across all cities, the need for a more integrated approach is only set to increase as shifting demographics—from population growth to migration patterns—and climate change risk put increasing pressure on urban infrastructure and economic and social systems.

As cities grow in size the potential for catastrophic breakdowns will only increase, whether from the meltdown of a nuclear plant, a natural disaster or attacks from criminal networks or terrorist groups.

However, despite the growing risks, cities have plenty of tools at their disposal when it comes to increasing urban safety and security.

Technology can enhance the efficiency of urban infrastructure and improve crime detection. Empowered with apps, citizens can become valuable stakeholders, contributing to everything from crime reduction to the monitoring of pollution levels.

Today, the issue of urban security goes beyond the concerns of municipal leaders and urban residents. Cities are becoming the powerhouses of the global economy, with the world’s top 600 cities now producing 60% of global GDP.37 Moreover, more than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, with this figure expected to rise to 60% by 2030.38.

Domain previous current new indicators are Health 11 12 , Number of attacks using biological, chemical or radiological weapons , Infrastructure 9 10 , Number of attacks on facilities/ infrastructure , Personal 15 19 , Severity of terrorist attacks , Threat of terrorism , Threat of military conflict , Threat of civil unrest , Update to existing indicators.