Smart cities ranking: What ANZ is (and isn't) doing well

Sun, 2017-04-16 05:30 -- Kevin Ebi

Major cities within the Australia and New Zeland region are undergoing massive change, through extraordinary growth. Sydney and Auckland come to mind immediately, having spent much time there recently. The infrastructure spend in both of these cities combined tops $75 billion.

Investing in smart infrastructure can unlock equity and prosperity. And whilst both cities are tracking well in this Mercer survey on quality of life, it also identifies opportunities for more work to be done. And with surveys such as this, it always raises the question – "How well is the city actually doing?" And to answer this question, we need to collect, communicate and crunch data. And this needs to be quality data that can be converted into intelligence. Only then will we really understand how our cities are performing. — Adam Beck

Mercer has just released its 19th annual Quality of Living survey and in it there’s incredible news for Australia and New Zealand. There’s also an incredible opportunity to improve.

First, the good news
Let’s start with what is going well: It’s hard to find a region where the overall quality of life is as good as it is in Australia/New Zealand. In the latest rankings, five of the world’s top 25 cities are in our region.

In Australia/New Zealand: Auckland placed 3rd, Sydney tied for 10th, Wellington came in at 15th, Melbourne was right behind at 16th, and Perth ranked 22nd.

For comparison, North America had only four of the top 25 cities — and all of those cities were in Canada. (We do have a way to go to catch up with Europe, however, which had 15.)  Auckland; Vancouver, Canada; and Sydney were the only cities outside Europe to place in the top 10. (Vienna and Zurich placed first and second.)

In announcing the rankings, Mercer praised Auckland for its well-balanced economy, idyllic environment and high levels of personal safety. Auckland also placed third in the previous year’s ranking.

What’s not to love?
Despite the strong regional ranking, there is room for improvement. While the overall quality of life is high, infrastructure is holding the region back.

In fact, when ranked for infrastructure, all of the region’s cities with the exception of Sydney drop out of the top 25 (Sydney actually climbs slightly to 8th place.) Perth drops to 32nd place; Melbourne drops to 34th.

So what’s wrong? Congestion.

Traffic congestion plagues most major cities, but in Mercer’s rankings, cities throughout our region struggle more than most. It also called the region out for poor airport connectivity.