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Sustainable development & enterprise index rating rapid urban growth & economic competitiveness.

Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.

RATING INDEX methodology

An index is a statistical tool designed to measure performance over time. For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s people live in cities and an estimated two billion new urban residents are expected in the next decade to 2030. Currently over 90 per cent of urban growth is occurring in developing countries, adding an estimated 70 million new urban residents each year, this also brings new market opportunities and global supply chains.  The COMPACT CITIES [index] project examines cities and communities experiencing rapid urban growth and development by combining bottom-up and top-down data and performance analysis. A good index has a well-defined objective and a methodology that best satisfies that objective. The methodology should be rules based and transparent and take potential users' needs into consideration.

The COMPACT CITY is an urban concept, which promotes relatively high residential density with mixed land uses. It is based on an efficient public transport system and has an urban layout which encourages walking and cycling, low energy consumption and reduced pollution. The COMPACT CITIES [index] examines economics, wellbeing and density in cities and extends OPEN DATA to include crowdsourced reliable data from global residents, communities, advocacy groups and business chambers. The COMPACT CITIES [index] provides an alternative liveability, economic competitiveness and an ease of doing business rating, including access to markets, supply chain and logistics. The COMPACT CITIES [index] provides analysis, reporting and forecasting on liveability and enterprise studies for smart urban growth strategies for cities and communities that are relevant and relational including informal settlements in developing countries and transitioning economies.

By 2030 all developing regions, including Asia and Africa, the world’s two poorest regions, will have more people living in urban than rural areas, where it is forecast to double over the next 10 years. Cities account for some 70 per cent of global GDP and no country has grown to middle-income status without industrialisation and urbanisation first. It’s not just developing countries and transitioning economies that are urbanising. Increasingly as property rights diminish more people are living in denser cities, where apartments and high-rise developments are increasingly the norm. This creates specific problems around DENSITY, EQUITY, AMENITY and INCLUSIVITY. We know that socioeconomic status is closely aligned to health and wellbeing, the markers are of concern for lower-income households. Low-income communities don’t often start that way, urban inequality and the economic status of residents can change quickly and rapid urbanisation can isolate communities that were once connected and healthy.



DENSITY is a measurement of the population of an urbanised area, excluding non-urban land-uses. The density metric measures the density at which the average citizen lives. It is determined by calculating the density of each census tract, including other segmentation such as building design, construction and materiality.



EQUITY determinants of health equity in urban settings include a wide range of factors in the political, economic, physical and social environment. Deficiencies in any of these can lead to health inequities, and greater health risks for minorities, women, migrants, the poor, the elderly, children or disabled, and other vulnerable groups.



AMENITY means access to shops and services required for daily living. This includes access to employment, health care, educational services, transport, cultural and leisure services, and green spaces. Proximity to employment, access to commercial areas and services, via a public transport system is a key aspect of amenity.



DIVERSITY has no single model of success, we can learn from cities that have become more inclusive. Overall inclusion reflects the ability of historically excluded populations, such as women, lower-income residents, people of colour and other minority groups to contribute to and benefit from economic prosperity.

If cities are to enjoy truly transformational benefits from the opening up of data they need to find ways to get data into the hands of ordinary people.


A benchmark is something that serves as a standard by which others are measured or judged; it is a point of reference from which measurements can be made. Urban benchmarking is particularly effective as a method for a relative evaluation of results in measuring complex phenomena for which no unequivocal measure of success can be found. A transparent methodology should objectively assess the performance of the city or specific spheres of its activity (e.g. quality of selected public services) and identify areas where improvement is needed. Find comparable units or entities with a superior performance with a view to using good practices, i.e. transfer and adaptation to the conditions of a given city. Evaluate the effectiveness of programmes intended to restructure and improve the operation of a given city and enhance accountability to various groups of stakeholders, particularly residing and working communities. The COMPACT CITIES [index] visualises the data with a series of visualisation tools including simulations, charts, maps, dashboards, animations and purpose built data application products. We commission, collect and extend data from various public, open and government data sources, combined with our own global benchmarking tool. Our benchmarking databases are organised, classified and indexed into datasets: URBAN PEOPLE, URBAN ECONOMICS, URBAN POLICY, URBAN FORM, URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE, URBAN SYSTEMS & SERVICES, (and) URBAN ENVIRONMENTS. 

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COMPACT CITIES [index] is a SUPERFUTURE PROJECT conceived in 2009 and forms part of a suite of data-driven projects that enhance and align with our project consulting and advisory work.  Launched in 2010, after (10)+ years of working in the built environment in commercial architecture, urban design, policy and the aid and development sector the focus of my work shifted to publicly funded infrastructure and social housing. Partly due to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) as aid budgets were heading to some of the lowest on record. In Australia, the financing of development was channelled into in-country projects and government funded infrastructure programs that formed part of a large stimulus package in response to the GFC. In November 2009, I attended the HAMBURG CITY CLIMATE CONFERENCE, it was the first annual global conference of City Mayors of the world’s major cities. The aim of the conference was to gather the community of nations, city and climate experts, and convene to make essential decisions concerning cities and climate change prior to the CONFERENCE OF PARTIES (COP 15), held in Copenhagen from the 7 – 18th of December 2009 to determine the course of action taking place after 2012 in terms of strategies for mitigation including further development of the Kyoto Protocol.

COMPACT CITIES [index] measures the HAMBURG PROPOSITION that Cities have a key role to play in CLIMATE ACTION. They are home to more than half the world’s population and are responsible for 80% of greenhouse gases produced today. Cities will acutely experience climate change at all levels, therefore cities, with their willingness and ability to change, hold great power in the climate challenge. With their dense population, dynamic businesses, and academic institutions cities are centres of innovation and creativity. Cities should drive climate action and facilitate possible solutions and strategies for adjustment to climate change that can be observed and applied in their concentrated and compact urban form. The legacy and inheritance of cities and development of mid-20th-century nothing ended up as condemned as the high-rise public housing tower. In the deindustrialisation and urban decline of our cities, the government-funded social housing towers of large global cities offered some of the only tested exemplars on extreme residential density in compact cities. By the 1990s, their failure was so broadly assumed that cities demolished huge swathes of high-rise public housing. COMPACT CITIES [index] engages the dominant compact city prototype of 'smart growth and 'new urbanism' without overlooking the benefits of urban consolidation, including the need for high-rise social and affordable housing. The COMPACT CITIES [index] is the continuation of the work I started 10+ years ago and an extension into new ANALYTICAL TOOLS to understand the COMPLEXITY of global INTERDEPENDENCE to CO-CREATING SUSTAINABLE FUTURES.

The City of Hamburg organises the HAMBURG CITY CLIMATE CONFERENCE within the framework of Covenant of Mayors and in cooperation with the EU-Commission. The Conference is further supported by the Climate Alliance, the international association of local governments ICLEI, by Germanwatch and by World Future Council. Hamburg hosted the Conference also as European Green Capital 2011.