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Shanghai. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Getty

One of the most over-used slogans of recent years has been "smart cities," the vision of connected, Jetsons-like future of streamlined metropolises where technology smoothly manages energy use, traffic, policing and more.

Even so, a decade after the term first gained currency, we still have no truly smart cities, says McKinsey Global Institute in a new study of 50 selected cities around the world.

What happened: One of the problems, say the study's authors, has been that cities have focused too much on the technology and too little on humans. The study emphasized that smart phones are the door to the smart city, providing all the information at one's fingertips for health, traffic, safety and news.

  • Co-author Jaana Remes tells Axios that she was surprised by how low European cities rank in much of the study.
  • In terms of establishing a strong technological base, Amsterdam and Stockholm scored high right alongside Seoul, Singapore and New York. All were praised for having "ultra-high-speed communication networks and [being] in the process of launching 5G services."
  • But Europe fall back when it came to using smart apps and especially so on being aware of smartness, according to the study.

More results:

  • In terms of having a strong technological base, no one came near the maximum 37 points. The highest was Singapore with 25 points. NYC was right behind that with 24.4 points.
  • When it comes to smart apps, NY, L.A., London, Singapore, Shenzhen and Seoul ranked the highest. There was differentiation — Europe's emphasis is mobile apps; in North America, it's health apps. Rio and Cape Town emphasized security. But, again, no one came close to the maximum 55 points: London, L.A. and NY got 34.5, and Seoul 33.
  • Asian cities scored the highest on awareness of being smart, specifically China — Beijing residents scored 24.2 out of 30, and Shanghai and Shenzhen were at 23.2.

Go deeper

13 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.