More than one year ago, on March 2021, the research company ESI ThoughtLab released Smart City Solutions for a Riskier World, a forward-looking study that provides city decision-makers with an evidence-based playbook for driving better social, environmental, and economic outcomes in today’s transformed world. A team of 30 economists and subject matter experts assessed the impact of technological, economic, and demographic shifts on cities.

The research, based on a survey of 167 city leaders from 82 countries around the world, dramatically underscores the vital role of technology, data, partnerships, and citizen engagement in enabling municipalities to help give rise to a new class of cities-Cities 4.0.

It was based on rigorous analysis, including in-depth phone surveys of smart city leaders around the world. The full list of cities, which includes Abu Dhabi, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Bangkok, Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, Washington, DC, Cairo, and Libreville, can be found by visiting

Urban experts and economists at ESI ThoughtLab benchmarked the cities on the use of smart technologies, data analytics, partnerships, and other levers of change across their urban ecosystems to develop this ground-breaking data and analysis. The research company also correlated and integrated data on city services, demographics, and quality of life from the World Bank, Numbeo, IESE, and other well-respected sources. To gain a citizen perspective, ESI ThoughtLab is also conducting ongoing AI-enabled sentiment analysis of residents of 10 representative cities around the world, which is publicly available on  

All data and results from the study were reviewed by an independent advisory board of city leaders, corporate executives, and academic experts, including representatives from sponsoring companies Axis Communications, Bentley Systems, Cisco, Deloitte, Hatch, Honeywell, Intel, The International Finance Corporation, Microsoft, NTT, and Oracle.