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Boston named ‘Smartest city in North America’

Boston’s Innovation District, the New Urban Mechanics office and density of university knowledge are a few reasons why the city lands as the smartest city in North America, one ranking system finds.

The ranking, conducted by Boyd Cohen of, ranked cities based on the development and implementation of smart city strategies in the economy, environment, governance, living, mobility and people, Cohen explained in an article on the website Co.EXIST.

Cohen said he developed a “smart cities wheel” as a universal model of smart cities and sought quality data to represent each of the six components of cities.

“I have developed a set of indicators and a range of actions that cities may choose to implement to achieve those drivers and to continue their smart cities journey,” Cohen said in an email. “I am now working with a major metropolitan city to develop a baseline for their city and then to develop targets and a range of short- and long-term smart city goals.”

Boston was the only city that was rated in the top five for each of the six components, he said.

“Boston achieved first place on my Smart Economy and Smart People,” he said. “Boston’s university system may be the most robust in the world. Furthermore, Boston’s innovation ecosystem is really impressive.”

Boston has an impressive entrepreneurial ecosystem supported through the mayor’s Innovation District and a world-class innovation system demonstrated by the New Urban Mechanics office, Cohen explained in his post on Co.EXIST, which cited San Francisco and Seattle as the second and third smartest cities.

But such rankings are dependent on the perspectives of the person creating the system, said Nigel Jacob, co-chair of the mayor’s office of New Urban Mechanics.

“These rankings are interesting and they are certainly something to shoot for, but at the end of the day, I don’t know how helpful they are,” he said.

Nicole Fichera, Innovation District manager of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, said innovation is a major part of Boston’s identity.

“Boston is historically an innovation city,” Fichera said. “We always have smart people here working on innovations.”

The Innovation District is Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s initiative to transform more than 1,000 acres of undeveloped land in Boston into a place where innovators live and work, according to Boston’s Innovation District website.

Fichera said although the city never provided information for this report, officials are content with the result.

“This is an independent report and the city didn’t provide information for it, but we are happy that Boston came out on top,” she said. “What is important for us is that we are doing everything we can to support innovation in Boston.”

Jacob said New Urban Mechanics focuses on creating partnerships with different sectors to solve real problems in the city.

New Urban Mechanics is an approach to innovation that is focused on supplying services to Boston residents supported by Menino, according to the New Urban Mechanics website.

“Any city needs to be smart,” Jacob said. “It is really an approach or a way of thinking to be reflective and [seeing] how we are operating and adapting to these services for the population.”

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