The 10 Most Hi-Tech Cities in the World

When asked the question “which are the top 10 hi-tech cities in the world?”, even the most “tech savvy” candidates tend to have a hard time comparing and/or imagining what is happening on the other side of the globe. In this way, the question is worth asking, and frankly, is far from easy to answer. When searching on the web, most of rankings found in Shakespeare’s language, such as the Popsci or the Wired rankings, tend to focus exclusively on American cities. Personally, the ranking I found the most interesting was one published on the website of The Age, a mainstream newspaper from Melbourne, Australia. Based on six criteria (1. Broadband speed, cost and availability; 2. Wireless internet access; 3. Technology adoption; 4. Government support for technology; 5. Education and technology culture; 6. Future potential), here is their conclusion:

1. Seoul, South Korea;
2. Singapore, Singapore;
3. Tokyo, Japan;
4. Hong Kong, China;
5. Stockholm, Sweden;
6. San Francisco (and Silicon Valley), USA;
7. Tallinn, Estonia;
8. New York, USA;
9. Beijing, China;
10. New Songdo City, South Korea.

The presence of four cities (Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Songdo City) from the Four Asian Tigers is not surprising. However, the presence of cities like Stockholm (Sweden), Tallinn (Estonia) and New Songdo City (South Korea) is certainly something that yields the most expressions such as: “oh”, “ah”, “what’s that”, “are you kiddin’?”, “really?”.

The presence of Stockholm makes sense when looking at rankings that classify the city as the one with the fastest broadband speed in the OECD countries. Moreover, Stockholm is acting as a pioneer in the use of green technologies such as RFID technologies, and paired with the high number of engineers due in part to the presence of Ericsson, those could be factors that contribute in making this city’s ranking first among cities outside Asia.

The city of Tallinn, mostly unknown to North Americans, except for those who have learned the world’s capitals after the fall of the USSR, is known as the Silicon Valley of the Baltic Sea. The city is also known as being the first to organize an election vote on the internet using smartcards, as well as for its free wireless internet facilities across the city. Tallinn is also recognized for the well-known start-up Skype.

Finally, New Songdo City, situated 60 kilometers East from Seoul, is certainly the most fascinating city in this ranking. The city was built from scratch by Gale International, a real estate development and investment firm, and is considered by technology experts as the ultimate digital city of the future. Even if the city is still upon completion, it is already considered in the top 10 of the most hi-tech cities in the world.

New Songdo City - A New Worldwide High-Tech City Built from Scratch
New Songdo City - A New Worldwide High-Tech City Built from Scratch

I can briefly conclude this post by noting that it is nothing new for North America to be limping way behind Asian countries in terms of hi-tech development, and this ranking is only a glimpse of what’s coming next in technology development….

Jean-Francois Belisle

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Worldwide Internet Penetration Rate Part 3

2011 is officially started and I am back from my Holidays vacations as fresh as the Social Network movie on Rotten Tomatoes (97% of freshness while this post was published). Similarly to last year, I have decided to start the year with an update on the world Top 30 countries with the highest Internet penetration rate for nations with more than a million individuals. Since I like numbers and political geography, here is the new Top 30 using data from The Internet World Stats database compared to the two previous ones of respectively April 2009 (see Canada in the Worldwide Top 3 for Internet Penetration Rate) and January 2010 (see Worlwide Top 30 for Internet Penetration Rate in 2010).

Jan. 2011 Jan. 2010 April 2009 Jan. 2011 Jan. 2010 April 2009
Countries Position Position Position Rate Rate Rate
Norway 1 1 2 94.8% 90.9% 87.7%
Sweden 2 2 6 92.5% 89.2% 77.4%
Netherlands 3 3 1 88.6% 85.6% 90.1%
Denmark 4 4 14 86.1% 84.2% 68.6%
New Zealand 5 7 4 85.4% 79.7% 80.5%
Finland 6 5 15 85.3% 83.5% 68.6%
United Kingdom 7 9 16 82.5% 76.4% 68.6%
South Korea 8 8 11 81.1% 77.3% 70.7%
Australia 9 6 5 80.1% 80.1% 79.4%
Germany 10 23 19 79.1% 65.9% 63.8%
Japan 11 10 7 78.2% 75.5% 73.8%
Belgium 12 18 77.8% 70.0%
Singapore 13 15 25 77.8% 72.4% 58.6%
Canada 14 12 3 77.7% 74.9% 84.3%
United States 15 13 10 77.3% 74.1% 72.3%
United Arab Emirates 16 29 75.9% 60.9%
Switzerland 17 11 13 75.3% 75.5% 69.0%
Estonia 18 21 23 75.1% 68.3% 58.7%
Austria 19 16 27 74.8% 72.3% 56.7%
Slovakia 20 26 74.3% 65.3%
Israel 21 14 9 71.6% 72.8% 72.8%
Taiwan 22 24 17 70.1% 65.9% 67.2%
France 23 19 26 68.9% 69.3% 58.1%
Hong Kong 24 20 12 68.8% 69.2% 69.5%
Latvia 25 28 67.8% 61.4%
Ireland 26 22 65.8% 67.3%
Czech Republic 27 65.5%
Malaysia 29 25 24 64.6% 65.7% 59.0%
Slovenia 29 27 18 64.8% 64.8% 64.8%
Spain 30 17 20 62.6% 71.8% 63.3%
Hungary 30 61.8% 59.3%

What has changed?

As stated in my previous post last year, changes in the ranking are mainly due to two factors: (1) changes in the sources used by The Internet Worlwide Stats Database, and (2) natural growth. Since last year, not that much has changed, 9 of the countries in the Top 10 are still present and 29 of the Top 30 are still dominating this ranking. The only newcomer is Czech Republic in position 27. Scandinavia and Oceania are still leaders in terms of Internet Penetration rate while Germany and United Arab Emirates are the winners of this ranking, each gaining a whopping 13 positions. This change for Germany should be related to a change in the source which was underestimating the penetration rate. Furthermore, despite all the financial concerns raised during last recession related to the viability of all luxury hotels, villas and islands in Abu Dhabi, I would tend to think that most of the increase for the United Arab Emirates is linked to technological growth rather than a change in sources.

Furthermore, I would also add some doubts about the strange downward variation for Spain that should certainly be related to a change in source too.

Logic and statistical interpretation 101

When looking at this ranking, it is important to understand that all countries have different ways of measuring the Internet Penetration Rate, but globally unless there are bombing destroying a country similarly to Japan in World War II, there should not be more than a 2% downward variation, a variation that could be related to statistical noise. Even for growth, more than 10% for a year is generally associated to a change in the source used, especially for European countries, since absolute and relative growth is mainly seen for BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries. Thus, even though these countries have low Internet Penetration Rates, they account for nearly one-third (32.36%) of the world Internet users population, China alone accounting for more than one-fifth (21.35%). Here is below a table representing the Internet Penetration Rate of these four countries but also the percentage of users in comparison to the world total.

Jan. 2011 Jan. 2011
Countries Rate % World
Brazil 37.8% 3.86%
Russia 42.8% 3.03%
India 6.9% 4.12%
China 31.6% 21.35%

BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China
BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China


In conclusion, there is not that much new concerning the Worldwide Top 30 countries for Internet Penetration Rate. However, what will be more and more interesting to look at in the future is the growth of the BRIC countries. Furthermore, I know it’s only the beginning of the year, but if you’re looking for a techno-trendy country or city to visit, this ranking is a good complement to my post entitled The 10 Most Hi-Tech Cities in the World, but also to the lucky 13 cities in the world described in my post entitled The art of Being Perceived as an Innovative Mind in Marketing.

Happy new year to everyone!


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