Tokyo named world’s safest city, Amsterdam tops Europe ranking

Pedestrians at a ‘scramble crossing’ in Shibuya shopping district, Tokyo, which has been designated the world’s safest city. (Reuters)
Updated 29 August 2019

Tokyo named world’s safest city, Amsterdam tops Europe ranking

  • Singapore took second place after Japan’s capital while another Japanese metropolis, Osaka, came third
  • Two European cities made it into the top 10, with the Dutch capital Amsterdam in fourth place while Denmark’s Copenhagen came eighth

LONDON: Tokyo was named the world’s safest city on Thursday by the Economist Intelligence Unit, in an index ranking cities’ ability to handle everything from climate disasters to cyberattacks.
Singapore took second place after Japan’s capital while another Japanese metropolis, Osaka, came third — the same top three as the two previous Safe Cities Indexes of 2015 and 2017.
This year the index of 60 cities aimed to capture the concept of “urban resilience,” which is the ability of cities to absorb and bounce back from shocks, researchers said.
This concept has increasingly steered urban safety planning during the last decade, as policymakers worry about the impacts of climate change, including heat stress and flooding.
The index assessed four types of safety: digital, infrastructure, health and personal security.
Asia-Pacific dominated the top 10, as in previous years, with six cities, including Australia’s Sydney in fifth place, South Korea’s Seoul in eighth and Australia’s Melbourne in 10th.
Two European and two North American cities made it into the top 10, with the Dutch capital Amsterdam in fourth place while Denmark’s Copenhagen came eighth. Canada’s Toronto came sixth, and the US capital, Washington D.C., seventh.
The safest cities scored highly on access to high-quality health care, dedicated cyber-security teams, community-based police patrols and good disaster planning, researchers said.
“The research highlights how different types of safety are thoroughly intertwined,” said Naka Kondo, the report’s Tokyo-based editor.
While European cities performed well in the area of health, they struggled with digital security, in terms of citizens’ ability to freely use the Internet and other digital channels without fear of privacy violations or identity theft.
Top-ranking cities for digital security scored high on citizen awareness of digital threats and dedicated cyber-security teams, leading to low levels of infection by computer viruses and malware.
“London is the only European city in the top 10 in this category,” said Irene Mia, global editorial director of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Nigeria’s Lagos, Venezuela’s Caracas, Myanmar’s Yangon, Pakistan’s Karachi and Bangladesh’s Dhaka were the world’s five least safe cities, according to the index.


Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

Updated 19 October 2019

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

  • The chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons for missing the timetable
  • She said the results would be announced “as soon as possible”

KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission conceded its failure to release initial presidential poll results set for Saturday and gave no new deadline for the vote which was marred by Taliban attacks and irregularities.
The presidential poll on Sept. 28 saw the lowest turnout of any elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ousting.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable.
“Regrettably, the commission due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said in a brief announcement.
Without naming any camp, Nuristani also said: “A number of observers of election sides (camps) illegally are disrupting the process of elections.” She did not elaborate.
Nuristani said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week.
The delay is another blow for the vote that has been twice delayed due to the government’s mismanagement and meetings between the US and the Taliban, which eventually collapsed last month after President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead.”
It further adds to political instability in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of conflict and foreign intervention and faced ethnic divides in recent years.
Both front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, have said that they expect to win.
The pair have been sharing power in Afghanistan as part of a US-brokered deal following the fraudulent polls of 2014.
The IEC has invalidated more than 500,000 votes because they were not conducted through biometric devices, bought for the vote from overseas to minimize the level of cheating in last month’s polls.
Officials of the commission said that nearly 1.8 million votes were considered clean and it was not clear what sort of impact the turnout would have on the legitimacy of the polls and the future government, whose main task will be to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
They said that the slowness of data entry on to the server was one of the technical reasons for the delay in releasing initial poll results.
Yousuf Rashid, a senior official from an election watchdog group, described the delay as a “weakness of mismanagement,” while several lawmakers chided IEC for poor performance.
Abdul Satar Saadat, a former senior leader of an electoral body, told Arab News: “The delay showed IEC’s focus was on transparency” and that should be regarded as a sign that it took the issue of discarding fraudulent votes seriously.