Better city rankings - cities ranking, a better way?

City rankings should give you the ability to rank cities based on where you’d live, work and play.

For some time now city rankings have been scoring cities which cities are the most “liveable”. Sometimes this is a theoretical concept, but certain cities such as oft-cited Melbourne, Auckland, Vienna, Vancouver may broadly stand out.

Of these livability city rankings (or liveability, depending on your preferred spelling) the 2 serious liveability rankings are Mercer and Economist. These have a process, similar to our Innovation Cities Index of scoring using banding techniques.

City rankings — to Monocle?

Magazines have also got into the city ranking act – with a variety of opinionated opines on which cities are great places to live work and play. Of these magazine city rankings, the most valuable are those focussed on 1 or 2 key decision factors for ranking cities. Some such as Monocle continue to be highly subjective, with very little data basis.

Single issue or regional city rankings.

Beyond our own Innovation Cities Index – which is similar in process to Mercer and the Economist – there are numerous other smaller rankings focused on sustainability, best streets, safety, tourism. Many of these are national or regional in basis.

City ranking issues.

The Mercer and Economist focus on liveability – although there main issues is that do not really consider that all factors are not equal. Whilst we all may love to live in a mecca of arts and culture, this is relative to our infrastructure and environment needs.

City ranking solutions — Markets.

This is one of the reasons we made networked markets (politics, government, trade, markets and broadly, economics) so integral to our city rankings.

We, at 2thinknow, as a far smaller firm but led by ostensibly the same type of people that design the rankings that Mercer and Economist run, believe that you want jobs, jobs, jobs and basic things like transport first. And in many cases, a manufacturing city may have some imbalances, but in general this is superior to a ‘services’ city with high unemployment.

Ranking cities is about you.

The Mercer and Economist city surveys and rankings tend to have a fascination for smaller cities, perhaps not so great for those seeking dynamism and growth. Swiss cities spring to mind.

Whilst some people may wish to live in Switzerland, and find it livable, markets suggest more people prefer London, New York, Paris, Shanghai or Sydney as a city on which to restart their future.

The elephant in the room of a livability city ranking is that perhaps the rankings gets the balance wrong. At least in our view. (Bias admitted.)

City index 2010.

It’s important to have the debate about what cities we want, and city rankings are a part of that. We value your feedback on our 2010 index city rankings, released in August.

Please let us know your thoughts. Especially, please also tell us what you think about your city and its good news stories. Here’s an online form to make that easy.

Urban professionals please also feel free to interact in the LinkedIn Innovation Cities group. It’s open to all those working with innovation in their cities.

Resources for city benchmarking.

Remember, cities, business and researchers you can purchase city benchmarking data on any city for around $12 to 25 per performance indicator – far cheaper than your own program. It may even get you started, and our data really does allow you to answer the question which city is better.

Because there is no single sole answer, there is only the question of framing the issue within a context.

Keep innovating,


The 2thinknow Team