Beijing Gets Top Spot in Asia, Third Globally in Digital Cities Index

By embracing sustainable digital efforts such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), China's capital has become increasingly environmentally friendly

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8:57 PM HKT, Mon June 13, 2022 1 mins read

China’s capital is among the world’s top three most digitalized metropolises, according to the Digital Cities Index 2022 published by Economist Impact, a think tank group affiliated with The Economist.

Researchers determined the rankings after assessing 30 major cities in the world on the basis of four pillars: connectivity, service, culture, and sustainability.

A comprehensive ranking of the 30 cities. Image via the Digital Cities Index 2022

A closer look at the sub-criteria reveals that Beijing has outperformed every other city in digital finance — a direct result of the country’s ubiquitous mobile payments. The research further cements the fact that Asian cities excel at digital finance compared to their contemporaries on other continents.

To the surprise of some, Beijing has turned over a new leaf and become more environmentally friendly. According to the report, the city has achieved this by embracing sustainable digital efforts such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) to maximize energy and efficiency.

As the study puts it, the sustainability pillar “evaluates the extent to which digital technologies are used to pursue environmentally-friendly growth through efficient resource management, emissions reduction, pollution management and circular economy adoption.”

In a city where air pollution, traffic congestion, and sandstorms contribute to overall air quality, Beijing’s new ranking — fifth out of the 30 cities in terms of sustainability — and efforts to reign in pollution are all the more impressive. It is also the only city in a developing country to boast such a strong performance.

“Beijing’s very high performance relative to its peers is creditable given its historical challenges, especially in relation to air pollution,”

— Digital Cities Index 2022

To nip pollution in the bud, Beijing’s municipal government has been working with IBM’s data-backed project ‘Green Horizon,’ which makes it easier to reduce smog-generating particulate matter by forecasting pollution levels.


Another sector where Beijing has implemented digital practices in sustainability is in its sharing economy, the report notes. Along with Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Sydney, and Toronto, Beijing has an explicit sharing economy scheme unavailable in most other cities.

“The index highlights how outlier cities are leveraging technology to improve quality of life for millions of citizens around the world,” shared Ritu Bhandari, manager of policy and insights at Economist Impact, in a press release.

Last but not least, Beijing has topped the 2021 Digital Economy City Ranking, published by CCID Consulting in affiliation with the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Cover image via Depositphotos

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