Another “livability” survey was released this week ranking the world’s
cities according to their stability, infrastructure and services, and
Jakarta found itself once again toward the bottom of the list — though
the Big Durian did climb one in the ranks from last year.
Jakarta was ranked 118 of 140 cities in 2012’s Global Liveability
Survey, which was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, an
independent business within The Economist Group, which publishes The
“Livability is simple: It assesses which locations around the world
provide the best or the worst living conditions,” the EIU wrote in a
statement on its website.
Jakarta gained one place from 119 last
year, putting the capital just ahead of Caracas, Venezuela; Al Khobar,
Saudi Arabia; Hanoi and Cairo.
But surveys, including by organizations that try to use objective metrics such as the EIU, tend to be subjective.
an article from CNNgo in June, writer Jordan Rane ranked Jakarta
seventh in the “World’s 10 Most Hated Cities,” which put the Jakarta
administration on the defensive. The Jakarta Tourism and Culture Agency
quickly pointed out that
the CNN article was an opinion piece, not a scientific poll.
never conducted an official study or survey,” Arie Buhiman, head of the
agency, said in June. “Just because one person commented, it doesn’t
mean he represents hundreds of millions of tourists around the world.”
The same CNN article also named Paris, Sydney and Melbourne as some
of the world’s “worst cities.” By comparison, EIU has ranked Melbourne
as the No. 1 most livable city for the last two years.
to rank the world’s best cities is like trying to quantify the finest
mother on mother’s day — most of us have a biased interest,” one writer
wrote in The Economist in a June article, “The Best City in the World —
Live and Let Live.”
The EIU survey originated as a way for corporate human resource
departments to access the conditions of cities where they were sending
their relocated expatriate employees. A ranking system told
administrators if they needed to “assign a hardship allowance as part of
expatriate relocation packages,” EIU said.
But EIU’s survey, and the metric of “livability,” has since evolved into a tool that can be used by municipalities.
used a scale from 1–100, with one considered the lowest and most
intolerable living conditions and 100 considered excellent. In addition
to stability, infrastructure and services, EIU also measured population
density, air quality, connectivity and green space.
By these measuring sticks, Jakarta’s livability fared poorly in the
global benchmark. Melbourne had a score of 97.5, Jakarta came in at 54.6
and Dhaka, Bangladesh, was dead last at 38.7.
According to The Economist, even EIU’s measurements can be deceiving.
The Economist reported that EIU partnered with BuzzData, an
information sharing forum that helped encourage user participation in
ranking cities, and suggested that it may be best to take statistics
with a grain of salt.
“The new indicators themselves are clever but perhaps overly laden
with values that do not lend themselves to quantifiable comparisons,”
The Economist wrote in June. “What “sprawl” means in Memphis (a grimy
over-extension of the city) is different than Tokyo (an orderly
expansion of the world’s biggest metropolis).”