When looking at 50 of the world’s biggest cities, Chicago actually fares pretty well, despite what most Chicagoans think.
The Safe Cities Index 2015 — an Economist Intelligence Unit report — looks at more than 40 indicators to rank the 50 chosen world metropolises. Instead of simply looking at violent crime or homicide rates, the EIU report opts for a more well-rounded approach. Cities are judged by four categories: digital security (cyber security and identity theft), health security (hospital services and life expectancy), infrastructure safety (quality of roads and natural disasters) and personal safety (police engagement and violent crime).
This list isn’t the 50 biggest or most popular cities, but the cities with the best regional representation and also the most data available. Most importantly, as the EIU says, this list should not be “considered a comprehensive list of the world’s safest cities (ie, a city coming number 50 in the list does not make it the most perilous place to live in the world).”
When it comes to personal safety — “considers how secure individual citizens are from theft and violence” — Chicago ranks in the middle at 25. New York was even higher, in spot 28, while Los Angeles was number 23.
Top 10 Cities for Personal Safety
6 Hong Kong
But as the report states, “Being statistically safe is not the same as feeling safe.” And, according to a subset of the personal safety category, Chicagoans apparently don’t feel safe. Chicago has the biggest gap when it comes to cities that are safer than they think, being 27 spots higher than expected on the overall Safe Cities Index (below). Riyadh, capital of Saudi Arabia, has the opposite problem. Their perception of safety is much higher than their overall ranking, marking a 33 spot difference.
On the overall index, where digital security, health security, infrastructure safety and personal safety are combined, Chicago shoots up to 16th. This is thanks to the city’s strong digital security and infrastructure security, where the city’s ranks are 10 and 13, respectively. Chicago’s rank for health security is at 23.
With all of this said, it’s difficult to tell how the report judges safety disparities in cities. In Chicago for example, some neighborhoods see a disproportionate amount of violence when compared to the rest of the city, leaving people in those communities more likely to suffer violence. What would a list solely considering this kind of disparity look like? Where would Chicago rank? It’s tough to tell.
See the top 20 cities from the overall rankings below. Read the full report here.
EIU Safe Cities Index 2015: Overall