Experts from RMIT University are available to talk to media regarding the latest rankings of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s global liveability index, colloquially known as the world’s most liveable city list, which was released today.
Dr Lucy Gunn (0403 121 155 or email@example.com )
Topics: liveability, healthy cities, wellbeing, city planning, walkability
“What’s important to remember is that the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index is a composite rating made up 30 indicators, with only four of them being quantitative.
“The rest of them are based on a rating from the EIU itself so there’s almost no objectivity in the development of this index, and it’s really just a marketing tool to help executives understand, in a broad sense, a city’s living conditions.
“Understanding what constitutes a liveable city is much more complex than the opinion of the EIU, which is what ultimately influences this liveability index.
“Instead we should be using objective measures based on robust data of what’s in our environment. This helps us understand where the greatest need, say for transport, or parks and open spaces is, which helps planners and decision makers take action. It’s possible that the EIU index simply distracts us from considering what’s really important to focus on as residents with a say on how our cities get developed.
“Last year the only difference between Melbourne and Vienna was 0.7 of a percentage point, and this year it’s the same, which in practical terms, is nothing.
“Ultimately, we’re lucky in Australia, because by international standards, all of our major cities are liveable.
“Given that this index is really a bit of fun, the only real concern for Melburnians is when Sydney outranks us - and it’s getting close!”
Dr Lucy Gunn is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT. She is currently researching the health impact of designing healthy, liveable cities. Previous projects have addressed economic evaluation of brownfield and greenfield sites, transit-oriented development in metropolitan Melbourne, and creating liveable cities using liveability indicators. Gunn also works as a research consultant in partnership with community and government.
***Dr Lucy Gunn is unavailable between 3pm and 5pm on Wednesday 4 September ***
Dr Melanie Davern (0405 562 735 or firstname.lastname@example.org )
Topics: liveability, healthy cities, wellbeing, social planning, mental health, health equity
“The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) was developed to help companies estimate allowances for travel to different international cities. The majority of indicators included in the index are subjectively rated by the EIU and there is little justification provided on why specific measures have been collected.
“The Healthy Liveable Cities Group at RMIT University has built an entire research program around defining and measuring liveability with well-defined and objectives measures of liveability.
“One of the greatest weaknesses of any city-wide index is that is fails to identify the strengths and weakness of specific areas or neighbourhoods across a city. That’s why we need liveability results at a local neighbourhood level to understand where policy and planning interventions can be made to improve the liveability of areas most in need.
“The EIU index is not a useful tool for improving liveability across a city.
“Equity needs to come into the conversation about liveability so that we are planning and building local neighbourhoods that are healthy and liveable for all the residents of Melbourne and not just the lucky few in well-serviced suburbs. Sprawling cities don’t support health equity because more people are forced to travel long distances for employment, education, public green spaces and local services. This also creates the need for transport by cars because there is little viable public transport or support for walking and cycling.”
Dr Melanie Davern is Co-Director of the Healthy Liveable Cities Group at RMIT University and is a psychologist and public health researcher. Through her applied research with partners, she has created direct changes in policy and practice in the planning and promotion of health and wellbeing in communities. Davern has specific expertise in indicators and measurement of social, economic and environmental wellbeing assessing the social determinants of health and translating this research into practice.
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