With one of the highest concentrations of bachelor degrees in the country, a population composed of highly motivated/highly educated young professionals, and with a Mayor pushing for a myriad of new development initiatives to create a more green city, it comes at no surprise that Washington, D.C. has made it onto Fast Company’s list of the top ten smartest cities in North America.

I’m sure the first question you’re asking yourself is what particular qualities of a city merits the classification of ‘smart’? Well according to Fast Company, the rankings for their list are based on a device developed by Boyd Cohen (the author of the article) called the Smart Cities Wheel. The wheel contains six main criteria of a smart city, and the three key ‘drivers’ or metrics that determine the strength of that category in that particular city.


According to Boyd Cohen and the categories on this wheel, D.C. comes in 6th place out of 10 for the smartest cities in North America. Cohen reasons that even though D.C. neither has the smartest government, the smartest living, the smartest mobility, the smartest people (Boston took that one), the smartest environmental policies, or even the smartest economy, it still ranked within the top five of three of the categories (economy, government, and people). Cohen also conceded that D.C. was one of the top cities in the country for our transportation system (this guy clearly has never rode on the DC Metro) and for e-governance, noting that the city has been one of the more faster metropolitan areas to adopt new technology, particularly with the DC government’s Geographic Information System (GIS).

Personally, I think coming in sixth isn’t too bad, especially if you consider the competition from other cities such as San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Vancouver, and New York City. These cities lead most of the world in innovation and adoption of new technologies, so for D.C. to have cut out its own place within their ranks is quite a feat. If you think about the massive changes and developments the District has seen over the past decade, as well as the momentum its been able to catch just within the past few months regarding a plethora of new city initiatives to develop places like St. Elizabeth’s and Walter Reed, I wouldn’t be surprised if D.C. comes in the top three cities by next year.

If you’re curious to see how the rest of the list shook out, here are the full rankings: