Measuring City Competitiveness: Emerging Trends and Metrics

Working Paper Series 2013:  Final draft incorporating the results of the open panel discussion on City Competitiveness at the “Intelligent Cities Summit”, 6 – 7 May 2013 Author: Ms. Natalie Wojtarowicz Research Analyst, The Future Cities Institute Inc. PhD Candidate & Research Assistant, Southern Cross University

There is a myriad of indexes and rankings outlining the comparative performance of cities all over the world, which frequently differ with regard to their purpose, scope, thematic focus, the metrics used and consequently the results. Based on a preliminary selection of nine indexes, the aim of this review is to investigate how the economic performance of cities can be measured and which indicators or categories of indicators are used to do so. Particular attention was given to indexes relating to city competitiveness and liveability. The preliminary results of this review were used as an input for an open panel discussion at the “Intelligent Cities Summit” on 6 and 7 May 2013; the insights gained during this panel discussion were in turn incorporated into the present report.

In general, three types of city indexes and rankings were identified, based on distinct features of:

1)      authorship (governments or international organizations; scholars; commercial actors),

2)      covered regions (international, regional and national focus) and

3)      the main thematic focus (performance as competitive, liveable, green, etc. city).

In order to explore the metrics used in the different indexes and identify the common themes, each index was analysed with regard to its indicators. In a next step, common categories of indicators were identified for:

  1. indexes measuring city competitiveness (i.e. economic performance, financial flows, legal and political framework, human capital, global appeal as business and political centre, social and cultural character) as well as for
  2. indexes with a focus on liveability (i.e. political and social stability, socio-cultural environment, healthcare and sanitation, education, infrastructure and public transport, recreation, housing, natural environment).
  3. The features of the third kind of indexes analysed, i.e. government reports, included a much more comprehensive nature of the publication, a different purpose (evidence-based policy, progress report on policy implementation) and references to liveability (as desired outcome or category to measure a city’s performance).

Based on this review and the discussion at the “Intelligent Cities Summit 2013”, four major critical issues could be defined:

1)      Definition and choice of cities

2)      Impact of purpose on metrics used

3)      Validity and reliability of the data

4)      Conclusiveness of indexes from an economic development policy perspective

These should not be regarded as the only possible conclusions. Rather, the aim was to define areas, which could be worth further academic or professional examination. Most importantly, however, these issues are meant to nurture further discussion with regard to city indexes and rankings in general and ways of measuring city competitiveness in particular.

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Intelligent Cities Summit 2013

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