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Brussels slips on Safe Cities Index – but still above average

16:55 30/08/2021

Brussels has come in 26th on The Economist’s biennial Safe Cities Index. The Index, compiled for IT giant NEC, ranks 60 cities across 76 indicators in five main areas: digital, health, infrastructure, personal and environmental security.

While 26 is not bad, with Brussels scoring 73.6 points compared to an average 66.1 points, it is slipping in the ranking. In 2019, Brussels came in at number 24, and two years before that at 17.

While the report does not offer an analysis of individual cities, it does show that Brussels has dropped over the last four years in digital and infrastructure security – but especially in  health security. Two years ago, Brussels was in seventh place in that category, and has plummeted to 31.

This has everything to do with the coronavirus crisis, which provided The Economist Intelligence Unit with a clear and succinct benchmark in analysing health security. While Brussels’ health score of 67.8 puts it just above the average health score on the list of 60 cities, it is nowhere near its previously stellar performance in the category.

Top in personal security

Again, while not naming any cities in particular, The Economist notes: “A wide variety of factors have been known to influence health outcomes for decades. These include the classic social determinants of health – including income, education, environment and work patterns, among others – as well as variations in health system investment within countries, and levels of societal trust and cohesion. That they play a major role in shaping variations in the impact of the pandemic both between and within countries was entirely predictable.”

Where Brussels does well in the ranking is on personal security, meaning physical safety, crime rates and presence of organised crime. In fact, it’s in the top five, beat only by Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Stockholm. Brussels score for personal security is 79.2, compared to Copenhagen’s 86.4.

The Economist notes that cities that scored well on personal security have a solid justice system in which “laws are both clear and transparently enforced” and a lack of corruption at all levels of the justice system, particularly the police.

Topping the Safe Cities Index is Copenhagen, followed by Toronto and Singapore. Coming in at the bottom of the list are Caracas, Venezuela; Karachi, Pakistan; and Yangon in Myanmar.

Photo ©Werner Lerooy/Shutterstok


Written by Lisa Bradshaw