Toronto: the safest city in North America

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Top in North America and Second in the World

Recently published study by The Economist ranked Toronto the close second in safety among world cities. The study, The Safe Cities Index 2021, is based on 76 indicators grouped into digital, health, infrastructure, personal, and environmental security categories.

That’s hardly surprising to those who live in or follow the news about Toronto. It was similarly recognized in many other international studies. We recently discussed in detail in our blog article another highly respected annual report (by Kearney) that placed Toronto also at #2 for its combined outlook among top cities in the world. Speaking of The Safe Cities Index itself, Toronto has featured close to the top of the list in all previous editions of the report.

At Hausworth.com, we use open data available from various federal, provincial, and municipal government sources complemented by crowdsourced data that our visitors share with each other. We provide the next level of detail if you’d like to learn more about the people, safety, and where to live in Toronto.

The biggest highlight of The Safe Cities Index 2021 is how COVID-19 impacted big urban centers across the globe, and what made some of them, including Toronto, more resilient to radical shifts, such as the global pandemic. As the authors put it, COVID-19 has changed the whole concept of urban safety. For example, infrastructure needs have changed dramatically based on the completely different travel patterns and utilities consumption (power, water, Internet). Also, the priority of digital security has increased as more work and commerce moved online.

Toronto Neighbourhood Safety

Several months ago, we looked deeper into how COVID-19 impacted safety of Toronto neighbourhoods in 2020. In essence, across Toronto 68% of neighbourhoods saw a significant improvement in key safety numbers, including such indicators as assault, breaking and entring, and theft. Only in 1 out of 10 neighbourhoods safety indicators actually declined.

In other words, Toronto, already the safest urban area in North America to live in, saw further improvement in safety during the global pandemic, and continued to show strong safety numbers in the beginning of 2021.

Here is a view of relative safety within the City of Toronto based on the complete results for 2020 from Hausworth:

Complete Neighbourhood Rankings

Scope of Safety

Of course, there are differences in the way we analyze safety vs The Safe Cities Index.

In our analysis we focus on personal and property safety of Toronto residents.

The Safe Cities Index looks at a broader spectrum, covering the following categories:

  • Digital security (including parameters like privacy policies and cybersecurity)
  • Health security
  • Infrastructure security (including water and transport safety)
  • Personal security
  • Environmental security (including waste management and air quality)

This year Copenhagen placed first in the report, with 82.4 points out of possible 100, with Toronto very close behind with 82.2. Singapore finished third, followed by Sydney, and Tokyo.

For the individual categories, Toronto placed among top 5 for Infrastructure and Environmental security. Leaders for digital security were Sydney and Singapore, and Health – Tokyo and Singapore.

Writing about personal security, authors called out Toronto and Stockholm as achieving the best results outside of Asia. Analyzing how the leading cities are able to achieve high degree of personal security, the report authors noted the impact of “higher levels of social capital and cohesion. The resultant sense of connectedness, shared values, and community also allows greater co-creation of security with citizens. The latter not only multiplies the efforts of city authorities to improve personal security, but it also helps define security in ways that are more meaningful to residents.”

The Safe Cities Index 2021 is published by The Economist Intelligence Unit, a part of The Economist, a highly respected international weekly covering business and current affairs.