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Deep Knowledge Analytics’ Latest COVID-19 City Ranking Reviewed by CNBC. Is Your City on the List?

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The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, giving rise to varying national health responses on a global scale. This global crisis hit many countries, with most of them largely unprepared and some more prepared to manage it than others.

However, national responses by countries to the pandemic present only a part of the whole picture. A deeper look into each country's federal response will reveal critical elements from the functional government units within the respective countries. For example, countries which provided an excellent response to the COVID-19 pandemic were able to achieve this courtesy of perfect coordination and organization within their city-states and municipalities in the country.

This is why Deep Knowledge Analytics, an analytical subsidiary of the Deep knowledge Group, released a COVID-19 City Ranking report in September 2021, which sought to rank the effectiveness of cities' pandemic response across vaccines, economy, governance, and safety. 

This report, proudly featured in an article on CNBC by Monica Buchanan Pitrelli, is the latest in line of over 500+ analytical pieces by the Deep Knowledge Group, published across top-tier media since the beginning of the pandemic, ranging from CNN to Forbes, Der Spiegel, Business Insider, The Telegraph, NIKKEI Asian Review, Deutsche Welle, Esquire, Fox News, The Washington Post, The STRAITS Times, The National Post, Gulf News, Arab News, Al Arabiya, The National, The China Times, The Manila Times, and many others.

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These reports have also had remarkable global impacts on society following international acknowledgments from government representatives, policy-makers, and other relevant authorities, including:

  • Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister of Israel); 

  • The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs;

  • Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Office of the Prime Minister;

  • Hong Nam-ki (Deputy Prime Minister of South Korea);

  • Karin Prien (German Minister for Education, Science, and Culture);

  • Hemann Gröhe (Former German Minister of Health);

  • Judith Varga (Hungarian Minister of Justice); 

  • Alain Berset (Former President of Switzerland) amongst many others.

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So, how did these individual cities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what can we learn from them?

Swift, Proactive Health Response

From the onset of the crisis, cities in countries like China, which were first hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, developed strategic efforts to combat the spread of the disease. Cities that made it to the rankings did not sit idly by folding arms, waiting to react to the evolving global crisis. Big data analytics, utilization of technology for close contact tracing, citizen tracking, and deployment of AI-based temperature scanners were used in the very early stages of the pandemic to identify people with elevated body temperatures, which allowed for the reduced spread of the virus. 

Other governments in countries such as Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Canada, and United Arab Emirates rapidly followed suit, collaborating with startups and corporations to develop intelligent solutions to combat the pandemic. It led to rapid research and funding for vaccine development and effective treatment options, the deployment of smart tech-government solutions such as automated web channels and telemedicine platforms, and the creation of platforms to tackle misinformation about the pandemic and encourage citizen compliance. 

The active responses of these countries and their respective cities gave rise to a high level of processes to manage the pandemic, earning their separate places in the latest COVID-19 City Ranking Report by Deep Knowledge Analytics.

Based on this report which analyzed over 8,000 data points with an analytics framework composed of 114 indicators, qualitative or quantitative, these city rankings were classified into five qualitatively distinct categories and applied to a total of 72 cities and municipalities globally. From these 72 cities, the top 50 cities with the highest scores were selected and analyzed for their best practices and the challenges they had to face. In addition, these cities were ranked according to their coordinated response to city-wide vaccination, economic resilience, government efficiency, healthcare management, and quarantine efficiency.

COVID-19 Municipal Pandemic Response: Top-50 Cities

Abu-Dhabi: Experience Is the Best Teacher

Based on overall performance in managing the global pandemic, it may come as a surprise to some that Abu-Dhabi takes the lead in the rankings as the most capable city with a score of 73.16. It is mainly possible due to swift actions by the government in ensuring strict "authoritarian" measures to curb the spread of the disease and its decision to place the lives of the citizens above geopolitical struggles and rivalry. As a result, Abu-Dhabi launched its line of vaccines and gained public trust while reaching an agreement to supply five other vaccines, which is among the significant reasons the city ranks number one in terms of vaccination rate. 

Meanwhile, cities with previous experience managing pandemics (in countries like UAE and South Korea) acted more swiftly than others. As a result, they were better suited to develop proper countermeasures to defeat coronavirus. Unfortunately, however, 56% of cities did not respond promptly to the pandemic threat. Indeed, experience is the best teacher. 

Cities ranked by vaccination rate

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Seoul: Calm Amid the Storm

All cities around the globe felt the economic pressure of the pandemic. Businesses were closed as the lockdown was in full effect, leaving only essential businesses to operate. It strained many major world economies and cities, especially those reliant on a single income-generating activity. Only metropolises with self-sufficient economic activities and well-developed supply chains could bear the heat, displaying exceptional resilience in the face of adversity.

Cities like Seoul, South Korea were role models in this regard. With the presence of public-private collaboration to deliver health services and ramp up the speed and convenience of COVID-19 testing, the collaborative service delivery of home supplies to support livelihoods, and joint effort with NGOs, volunteers, and citizens to enforce strict quarantine measures, the city of Seoul softened the blow of the pandemic on its people and created calm during the storm.

Cities ranked by economy resilience

Rome: Cracking Under Pressure?

The fact remains that no city in the world has enough healthcare capacity to cope with loads in the event of a massive infectious surge.

Health systems in many cities worldwide were largely unprepared for a nationwide health crisis, which was on full display during the pandemic. Health services in Rome, Madrid, and Kyiv cracked under severe pressure following a spike in COVID-19 cases. Once again, the experience of Abu-Dhabi came to the fore, as the city continuously invests in initiatives related to the public health sector and digital healthcare startups. Abu-Dhabi, alongside Dubai, was better prepared for these changes. This preparedness contrasts with 52% of cities in this report that still do not use advanced technologies in their healthcare practices.

Cities ranked by healthcare management

More Needs To Be Done

Many citizen populations worldwide still lack confidence in the potency of the Coronavirus vaccines, despite widespread containment policies. 

  • 32% of the cities in this ranking have strict containment policies. 

  • Health management for patients with chronic health conditions is still abysmal. 

  • Only 10% of the cities in this ranking prepared well-thought-out economic support plans for citizens and corporate organizations.

More can be done. Speaking of more, here is some additional information about this rankings report.

We hope that this report serves as a guide for cities and nations not included (or included) in these rankings to help them reevaluate and develop strategies and policies based on working systems in cities around the world to put the pandemic behind us.

So, did your city make the rankings? Share your thoughts with us.


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