Tidy towns, applied globally

One thing I have pondered from time to time whilst living in London is to how the air quality compares to that back in Australia. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the situation might be worse over here, but it is only anecdotal. While obviously London is a much larger and busier city than the likes of either Sydney or Melbourne, it’s probably arguable that the major cities in Australia have much more of a car-centric transport culture than the British capital. During his eight year reign as Mayor for London (which only ended a few months ago), Ken Livingstone made a political point of discouraging commuters from driving their cars into the city, most famously and controversially through the introduction of the London congestion charge.

Mercer Human Resource Consulting have recently released their 2007 Quality of Life Report, which if you are feeling extraordinarily affluent and interested you can purchase for $USD 390. The report compares and ranks 380 cities worldwide with respect to 39 separate criteria across 10 categories. Setting aside for a moment the issues associated with having valuable data like this only available to those willing or able to pay, this seems like a report well worth digesting. Fortunately for freeloaders some high-level summary statistics from the report are available free of charge (including the “Top 50”), from which we can glean the following interesting tidbits in relation to health and sanitation rankings:

  • The top ranked Australian city for health and sanitation for 2007 was Adelaide at 35th.
  • Melbourne and Perth tied for 43rd place, with Brisbane coming in at 47th.
  • Sydney came in at 62nd with London following marginally at 63rd.
  • All Canadian cities part of the survey featured in the top 25.
  • Seven cities in the United States were ranked higher than Australia’s highest rating city.
  • Auckland and Wellington came in ahead of any Australian city in joint 18th place.
  • Glasgow is the only city in the United Kingdom to have made the top 50.

Of course these rankings are apparently calculated from a variety of metrics relating to health and sanitation (e.g. hospital and medical services, water and air quality, etc), and not just air pollution, but these comparative rankings are quite interesting regardless. Also of interest is Mercer’s “quality of living” rankings, where patriotically speaking, we must note, Australia performs significantly better.

ELSEWHERE: More in this story from Forbes, which also has an exposè-style photo from each of the worst 25 ranked cities for health and sanitation. Unsurprisingly, most of the worst 25 cities are from third-world nations without strong public health infrastructure or investment patterns.