Singapore, Stockholm Top Networked Societies Index

Singapore topped the Networked Society City Index, created by Ericsson (s ERIC), the networking gear company, and consulting firm Arthur D. Little. The NSCI Index looks at how 25 major cities are using technologies to grow and manage themselves. The index shows that cities which put technology to use more effectively are the ones that have a better grip on “environmental management, infrastructure, public security, health-care quality and education.”

The study lauds Brazil’s Sao Paulo as an up-and-coming city that has used technology very effectively. The impact of mobile too cannot be underscored, the study finds.

They improve access to people, in particular family and relatives, but also help people make and save money. Mobile services, particularly in low-earning segments, enable people to become more entrepreneurial. They can increase profits by, for instance, cutting out middlemen when selling their harvests, and save money by avoiding lengthy travel.

Another aspect is the environmental benefits made possible by ICT [which stands for information and communication technologies]. In Kenya, an ICT-enabled mobile money solution, allowing long-distance financial transactions, is expected to reduce carbon emissions by a ratio of 1:65 over a 20-year period, while in Zagreb, Croatia, a new Healthcare Networking Information System has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by a ratio of 1:45 over the same period. In both cases ICT plays a significant role in reducing travel and vehicle use. These are some of the fundamental insights that have inspired us to extend the analytic framework into the city context and along the broader areas of triple-bottom-line benefits.

It is part of a larger trend of putting technology to work outside the realm of corporations. The productivity revolution’s first beneficiaries were big companies, and now we beginning to see schools, consumers and even governments start to think about technology as a productivity enhancement tool.

While productivity in the business sense is about maximizing profits, productivity from a civic perspective is about better resource management. As we become more networked and our devices can generate data, we can start to look at a future where technology tries to reduce waste.