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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

14 mins ago - World

China and Russia vaccinate the world — for now

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While the U.S. and Europe focus on vaccinating their own populations, China and Russia are sending millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world.

Why it matters: China's double success in controlling its domestic outbreak and producing several viable vaccines has allowed it to focus on providing doses abroad — an effort that could help to save lives across several continents.

Ina Fried, author of Login
24 mins ago - Technology

Report: China will dominate AI unless U.S. invests more

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S., which once had a dominant head start in artificial intelligence, now has just a few year's lead on China and risks being overtaken unless government steps in, according to a new report to Congress and the White House.

Why it matters: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who chaired the committee that issued the report, tells Axios that the U.S. risks dire consequences if it fails to both invest in key technologies and fully integrate AI into the military.

Americans agree about more issues than they realize

Data: Populace Inc.; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Many Americans assume the rest of the country doesn't share their political and policy priorities — but they're often wrong, according to new polling by Populace, first seen by Axios.

Why it matters: The polling reveals that despite growing political polarization, Americans share similar long-term goals and priorities for the country.