Technology. Where would we be without it? Throughout lockdown, tech made it possible for us to carry on working, stay in contact with our grans, binge every TV show under the sun, and take part in those weekly (and only occasionally stress-inducing) quizzes on Zoom.
The rise in technology has been rapid. Over the past decade, we’ve seen Apple’s iPad become a must-have accessory, Amazon’s Alexa become our personal assistant, and chip and PIN payments make way for contactless card machines. In fact, contactless payments have become so popular, that the limit increased from £30 to £45 during the height of the pandemic, and is set to increase again to £100 on October 15th.
For many of us technology is life, and without it, our everyday world would look a lot different.
But that’s not the same for everyone.
We wanted to see where in the world technology is advancing fastest. By looking at data including population figures, internet connections and tech skills, we can reveal which cities are becoming the most tech savvy at the fastest rate, around the world. Do you live in one of them?
The top 10 global cities growing their connections
As technology continues to grow, our lives become increasingly dependent on its capabilities. What might have been an essential piece of kit one year can soon become outdated, leaving you unable to watch the same films, play the same games, or even go to the same places as everyone else.
When COVID-19 struck, this became even more of an issue. So which cities battled back and got connected?
We found out using six key metrics, that looked at improvements in access to tech and growth in technology usage, to create an index. These include:
- The growth in the number of internet users in 2021 vs the previous year
- The internet penetration rate as of January 2021
- The growth in the number of social media users in 2021 vs the previous year
- The number of social media users as a percentage of the total population
- The growth or decline in the number of mobile connections in 2021 vs the previous year
- The number of mobile connections as a percentage of the total population
Read on to find out which global cities are steaming ahead in the tech race...
Berlin is the fastest-growing tech city in the world
Germany is growing its connection fastest, with capital city Berlin leading the way, scoring 64.7 out of 100 on our index. Famed for its culture, art scene and infamous wall, the city benefits from a high internet penetration, with 94% of the German population online - a 1.27% growth since 2020.
One of the biggest uses of technology is social media, and Berlin scores well there too. 74.4% of Germany has at least one account, an additional 11.67% over the past 12 months. Mobile usage has also increased, seeing a further 1.59% of Berliners sign up for a mobile deal.
98% of Sweden is online
Did you know Stockholm is actually 14 different islands, all connected by 50 bridges? Well bridges aren’t the only thing there bringing people together. The Scandinavian capital of Stockholm ranked second on our global index with 64.3 points.
Sweden sees 98% of its population online, growing by 2.64% over the course of 2020. There are also 330,000 new social media users in the country, an increase by 3.97%, while mobile phone deals have been taken up by a further 0.64% of customers.
Switzerland saw 27 million people get online in 2020
You might not think of Switzerland as being particularly tech-friendly - mountain ranges are notoriously difficult to get WiFi signal in - but the country is now more connected than you’d imagine. The Swiss placed third on the global ranking, scoring a healthy 63 points out of a maximum 100 growing technologically over the past year.
Throughout the last 12 months, an additional 27,000,000 people have got online - a further 1.73% of the population. There have also been 840,000 more people sign up to social media, helping the Swiss stay connected during Covid.
Not everything is on the up in Switzerland, however. 62,000 people actually scrapped their mobile plans, choosing to talk via other means instead. More Zooming, less calling.
Bern is the country’s capital, a beautiful city benefitting from the tech boom.
Canada saw 2.4 million new people on social media
Canada is known for snow, and lots of it. But in Ottawa they have a thriving metropolis, offering a great base for businesses, students, and tourists who just want to make the most of the stunning scenery. They can all get connected thanks to Canada’s strong infrastructure, with 19 million new internet users taking it to 94% coverage.
Social media in the country also saw a 2020 boost thanks to 2.4 million new users, while a further 2.96% of the population signed up for a new mobile deal.
It might be cold in North America, but the tech scene is heating up with Canada scoring 60 points out of a possible 100 on the tech-savvy index.
Poland saw 4% of its population get online in 2020
Poland is a country fast becoming a tech beacon in Europe. Throughout 2020 it saw an additional 11 million people get online - a huge 4% of its entire population. An extra 2.5 million Poles also joined social media, while 728,000 signed up for a mobile phone.
Poland’s internet coverage is only at 84%, but if that rate of technology adoption continues, it won’t stay that low for long.
In Warsaw, the country has an enviable capital, packed full of historical attractions and an internet connection that looks set to bring it into the future.
With a score of 60 points on our tech-savvy index ranking Poland rounds off our top five! Read on to find out which countries featured in the top 10.
82% of New Zealand uses social media
New Zealand was one of the stand out stars for growth during the pandemic, with the island nation making the most of its remote location to keep the infection rate low. But they still needed to stay connected, which is why 110,000 new people signed up for social media in 2020.
Mobile connections also went up by 78,000, while it was internet usage that saw the biggest increase - an extra 11 million New Zealanders got online in the past year, taking the country’s overall coverage to 94%.
The capital city, Wellington, scored 59.3 points on our index and enjoys a gorgeous view across the water and golden beaches many cities would be jealous of. With all those connections popping up, expect businesses to start moving onto the sand.
2.76% of Singapore’s population got online in the past year
Singapore enjoys good ties with two of the world’s tech giants, China and Japan, so it’s no surprise to see connections of its own on the way up. 9.6 million people joined the internet last year, around 2.76% of the country’s entire population, while 210,000 signed up for social media.
The capital city, helpfully also called Singapore, is full of imposing high rise buildings and incredible architecture, while also claiming to be the greenest city on the planet. With so many people doing business online, it’s easy to see why. The beautiful futuristic city, known for its iconic gardens tied with Wellington and scored 59.3 points out of 100.
Denmark took its internet coverage to 98.10% in 2020
If you’re not online in Denmark, you’re in the minority. The country ranked eight, scoring 58.7 on the index. The scandi city of Copenhagen offers almost total internet coverage, seeing 98.10% of its 5.8 million-strong population. That figure was boosted by an additional 0.4% of people living there signing up throughout the past 12 months.
The Danes also love social media. With face-to-face socialising off the agenda for the best part of 18 months, 110,000 of them signed up to a new account, and 60,000 signed up for a mobile phone.
Copenhagen is a historical city that’s home to Denmark’s royal family. Thanks to the country’s rampant technology drive, it’s also home to one of the most connected populations in the world.
Six million more Malaysians are online
Head to Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur and enjoy the awe-inspiring 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers and scored a respectable 58 on the index, ranking it just within our top ten. These buildings dominate the futuristic skyline, and also give you the chance to walk across a very open, very high sky bridge if you’re feeling brave.
The city has seen something of a technological revolution in recent years, with huge money being invested to attract businesses and tourists to the historical country. While many things slowed down in 2020, this revolution did not. A further six million people joined the internet last year, while two million signed up for social media.
Mobile phones were the only thing to suffer - 72,000 Malaysians decided they didn’t need theirs anymore and left their contracts to expire. Perhaps the lockdown left them wanting to stay off-grid.
93.8 million people in Japan use social media
It’s hard for Japan to become any more connected - the country is already one of the leading technology manufacturers in the world, and is home to huge companies such as Toyota, Sony and Hitachi. Japan rounded off the top ten global cities, with it’s sensational tech-hub Tokyo scoring 57.3 on the index.
Still, they found a way to increase their 93% internet coverage in 2020. 4.5 million new people got online, 4.4 million joined social media, and fittingly for the home of many global phone providers, 6.1 million got a new mobile phone. Brand loyalty is strong in Japan.
Tokyo may well be one of the first cities you think of when it comes to technology, and with good reason. The city is heaving with businesses and tourism, using hi-tech equipment to seamlessly connect its ancient history with its ultra-modern present.
The UK cities speeding ahead in the tech race
On home soil, technology is more than keeping up pace with the global competition. The UK has a proud history of technological innovation and looks just as switched on as we continue through 2021.
To find out which UK cities are leading the way in improving their technological capabilities we looked at five different metrics to create an overall index score including:
- The percentage change in internet connection (2019 vs 2020)
- The percentage change in the size of the population who don't use the internet (2012 vs 2018)
- The percentage of the population who have the '5 basic digital skills’:
- Simple internet navigation and using search engines
- Communicating online via email and messaging
- Transacting online - buying items and installing apps
- Consuming and verifying information using internet sources
- Creating content and completing online forms
- The number of tech jobs available per 10,000 people per city
- The average salary of those tech jobs per city
So without further ado, these are the UK cities where connectivity is thriving.
Only 10.7% of the Scottish capital isn't online
The Scottish capital of Edinburgh is also the capital of UK connectivity, scoring a whopping 73.3 out of 100 on our index. Most notably, the city boasts internet coverage of 74.3%, a 5.6% increase since 2020, while also offering 2,047 jobs in the tech sector. Workers there can expect to receive a healthy average salary of £53,620, attracting the brightest talent north of the border to keep Scottish screens shining.
The Big Smoke currently has 55,640 live tech jobs
London has long been known as a city full of opportunity for tech entrepreneurs and ranked in second place with a score of 69.5 out of a possible 100. It’s home to businesses such as Blockchain and Deliveroo, and with 55,640 jobs currently live in the sector those businesses are showing no signs of slowing down.
If you’ve got the skills, you could expect to earn an average salary of £57,619 working in a tech-focussed job in London. All whilst being part of the 72.6% of the population with a fast internet connection.
5.40% more of Glasgow is online than this time last year
Another Scottish city takes third place for the UK, with a score of 67.3 on our tech-savvy index, Glasgow is also seeing an additional 5.40% of its population sign up for a fast broadband connection in 2020. According to our research, 80% of the population have basic digital skills, and with 2,229 tech jobs currently available, they could soon be putting them to use.
Milton Keynes offers an average salary of £45,595 for its tech workers
The newest location on our list, Milton Keynes has only existed since 1967, when it was built to help with London’s housing shortage. However, they’ve worked fast. 73.7% of the population are connected to fast broadband - a 8.90% increase on the year before - while 1,369 live tech jobs keep the town feeling new in business as well as reputation. The East Midlands city tied with Glasgow scoring 67.3 on the index.
Manchester has seen a 9.1% decrease in unconnected residents
2021 has been a good year for Manchester’s internet connection. A further 6.10% of its population got online, taking its total coverage up to 73.7%. The city is something of a startup haven, home to the likes of The Hut Group (retail), Padoq (smartphone apps), and OpenMoney (financial advice).
These are just some of the companies offering the 8,008 tech jobs in the area, paying an average of £47,680. These factors gave the city a healthy index score of 63.8 out of 100, just piquing Newcastle to the top five UK cities becoming technologically advanced at pace.
The top 20 fastest growing UK tech cities
Technology has a huge impact on the global economy
When technology is rising (not in a Terminator sort of way), it’s safe to assume money is too. Tech and the economy often go hand in hand, as thriving startups look to make the most of a pool of employee talent by setting up in thriving, youthful locations.
Successful businesses bring growth to the area. More people move there, more shops open up to serve them, and more businesses start on the back of a good reputation.
Back in 2019, the UK’s tech sector was estimated to be worth a staggering £10.1bn, and while Covid will no doubt have slowed that down, we’ve found ourselves needing to be connected more than ever.
Expect the next five years to show another technology boom as more businesses look to make working from home easier, video calls more seamless, and (fingers crossed) fast-food delivery even faster.
Across the globe, technology is predicted to be worth £3.6 trillion to the economy.
We’re working to ensure no one is left out in the tech cold
While big technology companies continue to thrive, it’s important to make sure their future is just as strong as their present. Young people have the potential to change the world for the better, and by teaching them digital skills today, they can be ready to make amazing things happen tomorrow.
We’ve partnered with LAE Tottenham - the London Academy of Excellence - to offer technology and business training to the next generation of tech entrepreneurs. We’re teaching them the basics in digital skills, as well as how to network effectively, how to create a LinkedIn profile, and how to sell their skills when applying for jobs.
Technology is the future. While we love it for making contactless payments easier, it can also be used to turn back climate change, create green energy, improve mental health and provide countless hours of easy entertainment.
The Index was calculated through the below 6 metrics from DataReportal for each global location. Each metric was weighted to give a total score out of 100:
- The growth in internet users as % of internet users between 2020 and 2021
- Internet penetration as of January 2021
- 2020 vs 2021 change in social media users as % of total social media users
- The % of social media users as a percentage of the population
- 2020 vs 2021 change in mobile connections as % of total mobile connections per country
- Mobile connections as % of the population
The Index was calculated through the below 5 metrics from Centre for Cities, ONS People, Population & Community reports and Adzuna for each individual city. Each metric was weighted to give a total score out of 100:
- % change in reported % of connections subscribed to 30+ Mbps between 2019 and 2020
- % change in the reported percentage of the population who don't use the internet between 2012 and 2018
- % of population with '5 basic digital skills'
- The number of tech jobs available per 10,000 people per city
- The average salary of those tech jobs per city