Friday, July 15, 2011

Resilient Cities Ranking

Appropriate, since I'm now reading Peter Newman's book of the same title, which is where I found the amazing statistic that the average Atlanta resident uses 12x the gasoline than does the average Barcelona resident. You can guess which city might be more economically efficient and otherwise, resilient. You can also lump all of the sun belt together and assume they're within a 10% margin of error of Atlanta, since the same policies and codes provided their genetics applied to varying geographies.

Newman defined Resilience as "the more sustainable a city the more it will be able to cope with reductions in the resources used to make a city work." Jumping back a section, he states that a sustainable city reduces its overall ecological footprint while INCREASING quality of life.

Cal-Berkeley has just released a ranking of resilience for American metropolitan areas quantitatively measuring and ranking resilience from three separate perspectives as well as an aggregate whole. Those being Regional Economic, Socio-Demographic, and Community Connectivity factors.

Within each of those headings, they measured the following:

  • Income equality - which, obviously can lead to instability
  • Economic Diversification - See: Detroit
  • Regional Affordability - Housing boom/bust anybody?
  • Business Environment - Overly regulated, bureaucratic tangle?
  • Education Attainment - Another duh. Gotta cultivate that primary resource, people.
  • Without Disability - They seemed to define this as age-related. How old/young its populous
  • Out of Poverty - The poor are particularly vulnerable to disruptions
  • Health Insured - Ditto.
  • Civic Infrastructure - civic organizations as stewards
  • Metropolitan Stability - lots or little migration? How "rooted" are its people or are they transplants?
  • Homeownership - this has its flaws and I don't think I need to spell them out. Surely, they are again going after stability here
  • Voter Participation - again, stewardship
I'd like for them to have a measurement of physical infrastructure and connectivity, particularly per capita, but this is from Governmental Studies/Policy types not urban designers/transportation types. Otherwise, it's a pretty good list of data sets as far as so many of those generic city rankings come. So I'll go out on a limb and say there is some serious merit to it, way moreso than the livability rankings or even worse affordability rankings. And what is really getting measured is how "tied" to places its citizenry are and how active are they in their stewardship.

The results? It doesn't look good Sun Belt. Some notable rankings:

DFW - 245th overall (out of 361), 119th Economically, 207th Socio, 300th(!) Engagement/Stewardship

Screwston, aka Houston - 297th overall, 262nd, 230, 313th. Woo! We beat Houston in every category!

Atlanta - 172 - 161, 124, 231

Austin - 168 - 15, 130, 307

Phoenix - 233 - 176, 160, 294

College Station - Dead Last (whoop!) - 361, 341, 358

Notable Highly Rankings Cities:
  • Minny/StPaul - 3rd
  • Boulder, CO - 8th
  • DC - 10th - lobbying money y'all
  • Boston - 20th
  • Seattle - 25th
  • Harrisburg, PA......17th?! ..... woah.....woah, wait a minute. I'm assuming economic solvency isn't a factor in these statistics (<---- home town, also gutted by suburbia, narrow "landlocked" boundaries, and regional infrastructure the straw to make leaches life easy)