How we score, benchmark and rank cities on almost every aspect of urban life is more important than ever. Investors and businesses are guided by the performance of cities when they make all important location decisions and right now, opportunities and risks are far greater than we’ve seen in previous global cycles.
Over recent years, three major factors have impacted on the performance of cities around the world. Firstly, geopolitical shifts such as the UK’s Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump in the US and military intensification in Asia have increased uncertainty in a way that affects global investor confidence and decision making. Technology has also had a significant impact. Following the rise of the ‘innovation economy’ there has been a new wave of competition among cities to accommodate firms in innovation-friendly locations. Finally, we have witnessed a unique union of several global agreements on the future of sustainability, cities and climate change since including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on climate change (COP21) and the New Urban Agenda. These agreements have put cities at the forefront of the global development and climate programme and promise to accelerate low carbon infrastructure investment into bankable cities.
But how do we measure a successful city? JLL’s recent Decoding City Performance report which analysed 44 global city benchmarks, indices and rankings has identified 10 imperatives for successful cities. These include: fostering innovation, uncovering diversity of talent, investing in infrastructure, thinking long term, creating a ‘well run’ city, ensuring transparency, thinking smart, keeping it affordable, building a brand and going global. Using these imperatives and drawing on a larger dataset than ever before, JLL’s report shows that London remains the leading global city followed by New York, Tokyo, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul.
It’s no secret that London has long been a magnet for talent, capital and business thanks to its attractiveness, solidity and global prominence. The city is a hub for innovative businesses, skilled talent and first-rate infrastructure. It is also considered the world’s most transparent real estate market by JLL’s Global Real Estate Transparency Index. However, there are a number of key challenges for the Capital to address. The impact of Brexit on London’s ability to appeal to talent over possible new migration rules has attracted much concern but attempts to develop a ‘post-Brexit’ brand strategy: ‘London is Open’ has been implemented to counteract negativity. Then there is the issue with housing affordability which the Capital is yet to proactively tackle. Meanwhile, there is the very real threat of rising competition from tech rich smaller cities such as San Francisco and rising Chinese megacities including Shanghai and Beijing.
In spite of these challenges, London is clearly demonstrating why it’s still the global leader. For instance, the 2050 London Infrastructure Plan shows a willingness to think long-term, and to actively, rather than reactively, respond to future challenges. New infrastructure continues to be constructed, most notably the upcoming Crossrail project, while smaller scale interventions such as the introduction of the Night Tube, highlights London’s determination to improve its city offer.
In a world of rapid urban development, it is important to know where cities are heading to ensure the best possible future outcomes for business success. You can read about the performance of cities and ingredients for success in our latest Decoding City Performance report.