By Robert Ridley
With the unfolding of recent events involving Occupy Central in Hong Kong, the city has certainly had its fair share of attention on the global stage, and Hongkongers appear to have garnered a generally favorable reputation for themselves around the world. The protesters, with their Umbrella Movement, have been admired for their persistence and exceptional politeness during the protests, and the city definitely didn’t go unnoticed by the 2014 GOOD City Index, which placed Hong Kong at the top of the list.
The ‘cities of possibilities’ named on GOOD City are pinpointed as being upcoming, providing inspiration and being able to interact in innovative ways. According to Help Assemble the GOOD City Index, the list aims to identify “cities that are emerging, the ones that are figuring out their growing pains or flourishing under the radar.”
The index, which also features Taipei and Shanghai (38th and 42nd, respectively), grades each city in eight different categories—Hub for Progress, Civic Engagement, Street Life, Defining moment, Connectivity, Green Life, Diversity and Work/Life Balance.
Occupy Central appeared to be somewhat of a catalyst for the emergence of a number of things that were identified by GOOD City. One such thing being the use of FireChat, the offline social network app. The app, identified in the ‘Hub for Progress’ category, was used extensively during the protests, allowing users to communicate with each other without the use of an internet connection. According to GOOD City, the app was downloaded 500,000 times in the first two weeks of the protest.
Also noted in the index is how Hong Kong is “a city respectful of its property”, referring to how the protesters were mindful of their environment. The protesters, consisting mainly of students, were famed for using washable chalk to scrawl political statements and also their efforts to keep off the grass in public spaces during Occupy.
Occupy Central appears to be fizzling out currently and, with authorities beginning to clear out a portion of the key protest site in Admiralty and no apparent sign of response from Beijing, many Hongkongers may see their city’s GOOD City Index ranking as nothing more than a consolation at this stage.