What makes a city safe? There are a couple of factors that the Safe Cities Index (SCI) take into consideration when identifying the top safest cities in the world. Think access to high quality healthcare, dedicated community-based police patrols, vigilant cyber-security teams, and disaster continuity planning.

Copenhagen, Denmark is the 8th safest city in the world for 2019
Copenhagen, Denmark is among the top 10 safest cities in the world according to the Safe Cities Index (SCI)

The Economist released a press release with the results of the 2019 Safe Cities Index, and we’re going to break it down for you here! Who knows – you just might be surprised with the results!

Tokyo takes the #1 spot… for the third time in a row

Tokyo, Japan is the safest city in the world for 2019
Tokyo, Japan named safest city in the world for the third time running

Among the 60 cities in the world considered for the title ‘Safest City’, Tokyo has once again nabbed the top spot. With Japanese capital records providing an impressive showing in its digital security category as well as noticeable improvements in their infrastructure security, Tokyo has definitely secured its place as safest city in the world.

Two other Asian cities take 2nd and 3rd place

Singapore is the 2nd safest city in the world in 2019
Singapore is ranked 2nd safest city in the world this 2019

Singapore and Osaka follow Tokyo as second and third safest cities respectively, coincidentally making the top three safest cities in the world all within the Asia Pacific region. This shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as both cities have been known to make appearances in the top 10 safest cities in previous years.

We don’t travel far for the next contenders…

Australia a haven down under

Sydney, Australia is the 5th safest city in the world 2019
Sydney, along with its sister city Melbourne, both made the list of safe cities this year

Besides Japan, Australia has two cities in the top 10. Sydney was ranked 5th safest, while Melbourne just made it, placing 10th. Truly not a bad showing for the land down under!

Seoul makes its first appearance, tying with Copenhagen

Seoul, South Korea is the 8th safest city in the world in 2019
Seoul, South Korea is finally named a safe city for 2019

The mighty Hong Kong was once a staple in the list of Top 10 safest cities, but has made a slow descent down the line, disappearing from the top 10 from 2017 due to political tension between the communist pro-Beijing camp and democratic freedom fighters.

However, another Asian city – Seoul, has taken its place in the top 10, making this year its first top 10 appearance. Seoul’s quality healthcare was one of the reasons for its high overall safety score, nabbing 8th place and tying with Copenhagen.

Amsterdam, Toronto, and Washington D.C. round out the Top 10

Amsterdam, Netherlands is the 4th safest city in the world in 2019
Amsterdam, Netherlands ranks 4th among the top safest cities in the world for 2019

Other cities included in the top 10 include Amsterdam (ranked 4th safest), Toronto (ranked 6th safest), and Washington D.C. (ranked 7th safest). Amsterdam scored high in quality healthcare while Washington D.C. scored favorably well in digital security.

A city’s region does not have a significant correlation to its safety

Osaka, Japan is the 3rd safest city in the world in 2019
Osaka, Japan is among the top 10 safest cities in the world

Research has shown that a city’s region does not have any statistically significant relationship with the city’s overall safety performance. What does this mean? Well, even though the top 3 safest cities are all located within the region of Asia, this does not mean that Asia’s overall security is all that great. Asia is also home to the three cities with the lowest overall security score: Yangon, Karachi, and Dhaka.

North America rules in digital security

Chicago, USA has high digital security according to Safe City Index 2019
Chicago is one of the leading North American cities in digital security

While the Asian cities scored high in healthcare, personal security, and infrastructure, the North American cities of Chicago, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco were among the highest scoring in terms of digital security. The only Asian cities to match North America in this category are Tokyo and Singapore.

It’s not just about wealth

What are the safest cities in the world 2019?

Yes, you’ll find the cities on top the list are mostly wealthy, but that’s just one part of the equation. According to Naka Kondo, a senior editor in The Economist, other factors such as transparency and good governance (accountability) are also critical determinants of a city’s safety.

The different types of safety are all intertwined

top 10 safest cities in the world 2019

So to answer the question: ‘What makes a city safe?’ the answer is a combination of the four pillars of safety: personal, health, digital, and infrastructure. While one city may have excellent healthcare, they could be lagging behind in digital security, which would hypothetically drop its overall safety score. The results of this index show that the cities with the highest safety scores are those that manage to focus on all pillars of safety.

The Top 10 Safest Cities in order

  1. Tokyo
  2. Singapore
  3. Osaka
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Sydney
  6. Toronto
  7. Washington D.C.
  8. Seoul
  9. Copenhagen (ties with Seoul)
  10. Melbourne

For more about the SCI 2019, click here.


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