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Prepping cities vs uncertainties

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 05:27 AM December 01, 2018

Illustration by Steph Bravo

What does it take for a city to be “prepared”? How can cities future-proof against uncertainty and create long-term sustainability?

These are some of the questions that consultancy firm Cushman & Wakefield had sought to weigh in with its inaugural Prepped Cities Index 2018.

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Beyond the rankings however, the said index highlighted the pressing need to create safe environments, and it is in here that industry players in real estate can directly play a role in making cities better prepared for the future.

For instance, data from the index showed that Asia Pacific was the region most affected by natural disasters—a total of 160 disasters in the region incurred a whopping $45.1 billion in direct economic damages in 2015.

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The region also registered $1.75 trillion in economic losses due to cybersecurity breaches in 2017, while 40 percent of global ransomware attacks were aimed at Asia Pacific.

“Creating safe environments can be a real differentiator for those looking to invest in or attract talent at a national, city or company level. Whether the events are natural or man-made, we need to be ready. Given that the Asia Pacific is forecast to be the global leader in economic growth over the foreseeable future, there is a pressing need to begin planning immediately,” the report stated.

Poor ranking

Manila, however, ranked poorly in the said index, which was designed to inform stakeholders—at the national, city and building level—of areas of strength and weakness in order to best prepare for the future.

More specifically, Manila ranked 15th out of the 17 major business centers in the Asia Pacific region, which were assessed based on eight indicators, covering a range of macroeconomic, structural, defensive and social factors.

Based on the Prepped Cities Index 2018, Manila’s weakest points include cyber security, environmental susceptibility, sustainability and governance.

In terms of cyber security and terrorism, for instance, Manila was one of the bottom five cites, which “is likely reflective of the lack of technology and relevant skills at the local level, but also the need to address higher priority social issues such as health, housing and poverty.” The lack of awareness of cybercriminality among the local population in newly developed cities also drives the relatively poor scores for these cities, the index further stated.

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Among the 17 cities assessed for the index, Manila was considered the least stable in terms of political risk. It was also deemed to be especially susceptible to natural disasters, which largely rely on international assistance when an event occurs.

Taking the top spot as the region’s most prepared city in 2018 was Singapore—a wealthy city-state ranked in the top two places on three out of the eight indicators and in the top half for all except on rent volatility.

Placing second in the Prepped Cities Index 2018 was Melbourne, which had a strong showing across the majority of categories. It only placed second overall due to “a lack of new quality office supply to replenish ageing stock and a raft of political changes over the past decade.” Coming in at third was Shanghai, which “outshone all other cities in its real estate preparedness, boasting low cost volatility and a robust pipeline of new office supply.”

Creating safe environments

Beyond the rankings, it is more important to take note of the learnings from the index as a way to prepare a city.

The indicators used in the index—sustainability, rent volatility, obsolescence, terrorism, cyber security, governance, talent, and environment susceptibility—would show a city’s level of preparedness and in which areas one can improve.

“Some trends, such as population growth and urbanisation, are longer in duration and therefore easier to plan for,” Cushman & Wakefield said.

“However, in recent years, acute incidents such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, terrorism and the effects of climate change have occurred at an increasing frequency. The resulting impact on the human, economic and commercial prospects of cities in the region is immense. As the costs associated with inaction are only set to rise, the urgency for cities to strengthen their plans and implement the necessary precautions is evident,” it added.

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