Singapore Comes Third In PwC’s Building Better Cities Survey

Singapore emerged third best city in APEC in which to live and do business, according to a new study launched this week at the APEC 2015 CEO Summit. The PwC study gives city leaders a view of where they are now, and it hopes to inspire cities within APEC to collaborate and seek advice to solve tenacious problems.

The study – Building Better Cities – focuses on the role urban centres play in the context of APEC’s economic and social growth, and also looks at the cities’ growing influence outside their borders through three lenses: how they fare in basic city development, what differentiates them and the hindrances they face to growth.

Yeoh Oon Jin, Executive Chairman, PwC Singapore said:

“It is commendable that Singapore is the third most competitive, sustainable and livable APEC city. This achievement is reinforced by CEOs who have expressed confidence in their outlook for revenue growth in Singapore. Singapore is well positioned as a leader in technology-adoption and a recognised global financial hub. Singapore must continue to create value, strengthen partnerships and adopt best practices to advance along its growth journey.”

The study also looks at the rates of middle-class population growth, gross domestic product growth and the status of mobile broadband access to give fast growing cities an opportunity to accurately describe their progress and future growth potential.

Cities are now competing to attract an increasingly mobile, global workforce. Talent collects where the right live-work mix is found. And establishing a unique identity is crucial. Even a top ranking city might lose out on expertise and investment capital if it is not known for a specific asset. It is becoming increasingly important for cities to build up their ‘brand’ to stay competitive.

Guillermo M Luz, COO of APEC 2015 CEO Summit and Co-Chairman of National Competitiveness Council, Philippines emphasises the need for city-to-city collaboration as well. “This study provides a set of metrics and a diagnostic tool for Mayors and urban planners to see how they can improve their communities to build better cities. We hope Mayors use this information to see how they can evolve their cities into more liveable, sustainable, and competitive places.”

The study grouped the 39 indicators according to five categories of urban excellence.


Part of any great city’s allure is its interconnectedness. As expected, the highest ranking cities in our Connectivity category – notably Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo – are making impressive strides across all our Connectivity indicators. Moving people around a city seamlessly isn’t just about convenient commutes, nor is sharing knowledge only about city travel apps – connectivity has far-reaching implications in a city’s social and economic well-being. The top cities in this category have benefitted from decades of hard and soft infrastructure advancements and planning; they have been smart and digital well before the terms ‘smart cities’ or ‘e-gov’ were even coined.

Singapore emerged top in connectivity coming in first in broadband quality, tied for first in public transport systems with Hong Kong, Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver and first in traffic congestion.

Keith Martin, Cities Infrastructure Centre Leader, PwC Singapore commented, “Clearly, Singapore has benefited greatly from an excellent strength and depth of components that deliver effective connectivity, which benefits all city functions and end-users. This has been achieved by putting in place long term planning, funding and regulatory platforms to enable effective connectivity; throughout both the hardware and software components. We would like to expand the definition of connectivity to relate more to cross-border collaboration between cities, and knowledge sharing across the whole of APEC. The positive appetite and energy amongst city and urbanisation stakeholders to collaborate and share their ideas and systems for developing effective and affordable urban spaces is essential to meet the needs of our diverse and rapidly growing populations.”


Collectively, urban centres already generate some 70% of APEC’s total GDP. With increasingly rapid urbanisation, this is only set to increase. Unsurprisingly, financial powerhouses Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo fared best in this category, with Bandar Seri Begawan, Novosibirsk, and Port Moresby coming in last.

Singapore’s economic strength sees it come second in economics, behind Hong Kong. In the report, Singapore comes first in three variables – ease of doing business, attracting FDI and openness to trade. Echoed in PwC’s APEC CEO survey, 83% of respondents in Singapore (67% in APEC) indicated that they were confident about the prospect of revenue growth over the next year. When asked about the prospects for revenue growth in the next three to five years, 92% of respondents in Singapore (91% in APEC) indicated that they were confident.

The study proposes that managing cities like businesses could prove beneficial – especially when it comes to infrastructure – where longer-term sustainability and feasibility should be considered from the onset of projects. Typical problems faced by cities include whether infrastructure plans can survive multiple mayoral administrations and whether the projects possess the highest levels of engineering integrity in an era of more frequent and severe climate change-related weather events.


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