Safe Cities Index 2017: A positive approach to understand Dhaka perspective

Fahbin Anwar

Fahbin Anwar

Entrepreneur by profession, mother of one, loves to write. Keeps an opinion on nearly everything, A True Bangladeshi.

If you are a news savvy person like me, you would’ve probably noticed that the London-based “The Economist” recently released its Safe Cities Index 2017 report and our beloved national capital Dhaka ranks third from the bottom of the list. Relax, before you start worrying about it.

The results of the 2017 Safe Cities Index


We must take a holistic approach to understand what this means and start looking at the bigger picture than just what meets the eye.

While I agree that the first thing that’s bound to come to anyone’s mind when they hear or read the words “Safe Cities” is that it has got something to do with the physical safety and security of people in that city. Well, true to some extent but that’s not the only indicator that this report managed to cover. In fact, in its second edition, the 2017 Safe Cities Index by The Economist went into ranking 60 cities across 49 indicators covering the issues of digital security, health security, infrastructure security and personal security.

Even if we take into account the issue of Personal Security, Dhaka is ranked #43 out of the 60 cities and way ahead of two high-income cities in Jeddah and Riyadh which were ranked 50 and 47 respectively. This clearly shows that wealth and an abundance of it has nothing to do with providing a foolproof security setup to any city.

Security in a rapidly urbanizing world is a big challenge for any modern city today and we have seen that with the once considered impregnable city of New York and how it has been an unfortunate target of terror-related activities.

“Cities are the most densely populated areas, so a terrorist would want to be where people are, rather than setting off bombs in the middle of a field,” says Michael Nutter, professor of professional practice in urban and public affairs at Columbia University and former mayor of Philadelphia.

Unlike the Singapore’s, the Wellington’s, the Osaka’s of the world which rank on top of the Personal Security index, our city Dhaka has witnessed senseless terrorism and the frequency and severity of these attacks can be gauged from the following graph:

It also needs to be understood that the Safe Cities index measures relative and not absolute security. So think again, before you press the panic button!

Having said that, I am sure there are definitely areas of improvements that can help Dhaka move up the ladder of such rankings. It is just a matter of bringing together resources, be ithuman, financial or political.

The incumbent government has demonstrated through its actions that it has the will to execute such a transformation. Read this story to know about the government’s mega plans to leverage technology and bolster the security of Dhaka. This TK 5,000 crore project, duly sanctioned by the finance ministry and involving the installation of CCTV cameras and motion sensors will be the game-changer in improving Dhaka’s security.

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also contributed in leaps and bounds in getting us the right strategic partnerships required to achieve this vision of improving Dhaka’s security in the eyes of the world. Japan’s new envoy Mr. Hiroyasu Izumihas already gone on record to convey his country’s intention to actively work with Government of Bangladesh on the subjects of environment and security, as can be verified from this Financial Express news report.

Other important issues like Digital Security which influence the rankings in the Safe Cities index are also being handled pretty well under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. The Vision 2020 of this government had clearly outlined the vision of Digital Bangladesh that would usher in an era of technological excellence by 2020. Be there at the Digital World 2017 expo at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC) in Dhaka on 6-9 December 2017 to see for yourself the remarkable strides taken by the government towards achieving this vision.

Digital Security Top 10 and Bottom 10


On the right track we are and the right destination we will reach! All we need is to view the bigger picture and not get lost in the micro details of the now. Unlike the many countries whose cities find a mention in the top of the rankings of the Safe Cities Index 2017 we were not the fortunate ones with an abundance of natural resources or wealth at our disposal. We are a young and dynamic nation that has built its way grounds up through sheer enthusiasm, will-power, and perseverance of its people. All we need is an able government that can steer us through the path of development and prosperity and I believe the present government under the leadership of the honorable PM Sheikh Hasina will deliver on these expectations for sure.

Featured Image Source: The Independent BD.