Why data matters to our cities

In a recent article we explored the key components around what makes a city liveable. The article explored the Economic Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) yearly release of the Global Liveability Index, which ranks cities from around the world on five key indicators (stability, healthcare, environment and culture, education and infrastructure) that they believe demonstrate a safe and thriving city.

Nationally our cities use their own set of data metrics to track and measure liveability – with a healthy competition between states. My colleague Thu Thu recently ran her own analysis on the performance of individual capital cities, which you can view here.

So why do states use data to track liveability? Simply put – it helps them assess and improve the quality of life for their residents. Here are several reasons why this is important:

  1. Policy Development: Data on liveability indicators (such as housing affordability, access to healthcare, crime rates, environmental quality, etc.) helps policymakers make informed decisions. For example, if data shows a decline in air quality or an increase in crime rates in a particular area, policymakers can allocate resources and implement policies to address these issues.
  2. Benchmarking: Tracking liveability allows states to compare themselves with each other and with international standards. This benchmarking helps identify areas where a state is performing well and areas that need improvement.
  3. Public Accountability: By making liveability data publicly available, governments can be held accountable for their performance in improving the quality of life for residents. Citizens can use this data to advocate for change and monitor progress over time.
  4. Urban Planning: Data on liveability is crucial for urban planners to design cities and communities that are more sustainable, efficient, and conducive to a high quality of life. It informs decisions about infrastructure development, transportation networks, green spaces, and community amenities.
  5. Economic Development: A high level of liveability can attract businesses, investment, and skilled workers to a state. Data on liveability indicators can be used to promote economic development by highlighting strengths and opportunities for improvement.
  6. Health and Well-being: Liveability data often includes health-related indicators such as access to healthcare services, recreational facilities, and environmental factors. Improving these aspects can directly enhance the health and well-being of residents.

In 2014 the Australian Government launched the NationalMap as a part of their Public Data Policy. This policy supports open data publication, discovery and consumption by government, industry, research, community organisations and the general public. Since it’s launch, over 13,000 datasets have been made accessible to the map from more than 50 data custodians at all levels of government across Australia.

In order for governments to ensure that our progress as individual states, and as a nation is healthy, sustainable, cohesive and prosperous – we need to measure it. Traditional economic indicators remain a vital part of the measuring progress, but as many government agencies have realised, they are far from the whole story. As stated in the ‘Measuring What Matters Australia’s First Wellbeing Framework’ report, “Making use of additional metrics will deepen our understanding of how Australians are faring, support more informed discussions about what needs to be done to improve the lives of Australians and help better inform policy making across all levels of government.”

Overall, tracking liveability through data allows Australian states to identify areas of improvement, allocate resources effectively, and create policies that enhance the overall quality of life for their residents. It’s a comprehensive approach to ensuring sustainable development and a high standard of living across different regions.

Square Holes regularly work with government and other organisations on key projects that shape our city and other cities around Australia. To learn more about us head here. 

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