This Is How Judges Choose the ‘Most Liveable City’

Sydney Skyline Judged for Liveability by ADC

How Judges Choose the ‘Most Liveable City’

With Australian cities like Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth frequently named in ‘top 10 most liveable cities’ lists — seemingly year after year — you may be curious as to how judges pick the most liveable cities and what criteria they use. Firstly, it’s important to point out that there isn’t just one survey or list cited, there are quite a few, with the most often cited lists the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ‘Global Liveability Ranking, Monocle’s ‘Most Liveable Cities Index, Deutsche Bank’s ‘Liveability Survey’, and the ‘Mercer Quality of Living Survey.

The EIU’s Global Liveability Ranking is the most cited liveability index and listed cosmopolitan Melbourne as the world’s most liveable city for an amazing seven years in a row (2011 to 2017, it’s now the Austrian capital Vienna). To put the global index in perspective, in 2016, while Melbourne was the #1 city in terms of liveability, Damascus, the capital of Syria, was ranked the least liveable city, which isn’t in any way due to poor town planning, more so the ongoing conflict that still grips the country.

But how do judges decide which of the one-hundred and forty cities assessed is the most liveable? After all, many Australians find Melbourne’s weather a little unappealing. while others find the town planning architecture in smaller cities, like Brisbane and Adelaide, to be far more preferable and those cities more liveable as a result.

The EIU’s Global Liveability Ranking — 30 Indicators, 5 Liveability Categories

To measure and assess the liveability of a city, the EIU’s Global Liveability Index uses 30 indicators which measure five liveability categories:

  • Stability (public and personal safety)
  • Culture and environment
  • Infrastructure
  • Healthcare
  • Education

This all seems very straightforward and sensible, but the process is very secretive — 26/30 indicators are based on the “judgement of in-house expert country analysts and a field correspondent based in each city”, who grade each city (from most liveable to least liveable) as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable. Unfortunately, there’s little accessible information on the judges and their qualifications, and the full report data will set you back around ten thousand dollars.

However, there are still many insights to be gained by looking at what we do know, and that is that each category is carefully assessed and scrutinised. For example, sustainable urban planning and urban planning programs are looked at in-depth in infrastructure, while crime, civil unrest and terror attacks are assessed in the stability category.

While town planning projects and infrastructure are relatively easy to judge and the EIU’s Global Liveability Index manages these assessments sufficiently, in other areas the Index has been accused of missing important criteria concerning daily life that are important aspects of calling a particular city ‘home’. These include walkability, traffic congestion and bike paths, all of which are issues here in Australia and need to be assessed in greater detail, not omitted from liveability surveys.

Arnold Development Consultants provide a complete suite of services to meet all your town planning needs and have a strong idea of what makes an area shine in terms of liveability. To speak with a town planner about your project, contact ADC today.