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20 Livability Rating Tools

Updated: Feb 2

Transportation, Public Health, Equity, Environmental, Economic, Social.

Following several conversations with peers on how we measure communities, I did some research and gathered 20 scores and databases. You can use them in your policy decisions, advocacy, community interventions, real estate and developing, and more. This is not a complete list of what's out there, but just some of the popular ones I know about and came across recently. Please leave a comment if you used any of these so we know they are valuable.


AARP Livability Index. The Livability Index scores neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. for the services and amenities that impact your life the most.

State of Place. Urban design data & predictive analytics to: optimize resources, drive consensus, build trust. Ranging from local city governments to national railways to private developers and architecture studios, State of Place has helped citymakers worldwide use data to deliver on their citymaking promises, and get more livable, equitable, sustainable places DONE!

Walk Score. Transit Score. Bike Score. View neighborhood restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, schools, parks, and more. Get a commute report and see options for getting around by car, bus, bike, and foot. Learn about the neighborhood, view crime and safety, see what locals are saying, browse photos and places.

Housing and Transportation Affordability Index. The Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index provides a comprehensive view of affordability that includes both the cost of housing and the cost of transportation at the neighborhood level. See how affordability in nearly 220,000 neighborhoods is impacted when the traditional measure of affordability is expanded to include transportation costs. By taking into account the combined costs of housing and transportation associated with the location of the home, the H+T Index provides a more complete understanding of affordability.

World's Worst Cities for Traffic Congestion. The TomTom Traffic Index has been providing detailed insights on traffic congestion levels in over 400 cities around the world for the past 10 years. The report ranks cities from the most to the least congested. It’s powered by real traffic data and reflects all the changes on our roads in 2020, so it’s no surprise that this year’s ranking is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

Metro Car-Free Index. Going car-free is a definite trend. Cars are expensive to own, maintain, and insure. They take a heavy toll on the environment. And not having a car can say something about a person’s identity. But being able to go without a car isn’t just a matter of personal commitment—it depends a lot on where you live. Some cities are denser, have much better transit, and are more walkable and bike-able than others. It’s based on four key variables: the share of households that don’t have access to their own vehicle, the share of commuters who take transit to work, the share of commuters who bike to work, and the share of commuters who walk to work. All of the data we used are from the American Community Survey’s five-year estimates for 2017, and they cover all 382 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Community Health Assessment. In order to effectively identify, plan, and implement needed policy, systems and environmental changes, communities need to be able to assess the current policy landscape and monitor changes over time. The Community Health Assessment aNd Group Evaluation (CHANGE) Action Guide: Building a Foundation of Knowledge to Prioritize Community Health Needs was designed to meet this need. Although the CHANGE tool is not intended to promote any specific policy, it serves as a critical tool to help communities discover the array of approaches being used in the field. The CHANGE tool also helps communities identify and monitor important policy, systems, and environmental changes over time. Guide developed by the CDC.

Community Needs Assessment. A community needs assessment provides community leaders with a snapshot of local policy, systems, and environmental change strategies currently in place and helps to identify areas for improvement. With this data, communities can map out a course for health improvement by creating strategies to make positive and sustainable changes in their communities. Workbook developed by the CDC.

Health Equity Monitor - global. Health equity is the absence of unfair and avoidable differences in health between subgroups of a population. Monitoring health inequalities – the observed differences in health between population subgroups – is crucial to achieve health equity. Health inequality monitoring uses health data disaggregated by relevant inequality dimensions (i.e. demographic, socioeconomic or geographical factors) in order to identify who is being left behind. Disaggregated data provide an evidence base for equity-oriented policies, programmes and practices that aim to close existing gaps and achieve health for all. For this reason, the WHO Thirteenth Global Programme of Work (GPW13) promotes the “strategic disaggregation of data through collection, analysis and reporting”.

Social Vulnerability Index. Every community must prepare for and respond to hazardous events, whether a natural disaster like a tornado or disease outbreak, or a human-made event such as a harmful chemical spill. A number of factors, including poverty, lack of access to transportation, and crowded housing may weaken a community’s ability to prevent human suffering and financial loss in a disaster. These factors are known as social vulnerability. ATSDR’s (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) Geospatial Research, Analysis & Services Program (GRASP) created databases to help emergency response planners and public health officials identify and map communities that will most likely need support before, during, and after a hazardous event.

Racial Equity Index. The Racial Equity Index is a data tool designed to help communities identify priority areas for advancing racial equity, track progress over time, and set specific goals for closing racial gaps. It provides a snapshot of overall equity outcomes for cities, regions, and states. The Index is based on nine Atlas indicators scored separately for inclusion and prosperity. The inclusion score measures racial disparities, where a higher score indicates smaller racial gaps. The prosperity score measures outcomes for the total population, where a higher score indicates better results overall. The index also provides prosperity scores by race/ethnicity for the six major racial/ethnic groups. The maximum possible index value is 100 (top performer) and the minimum possible value is 1 (needs most work). All values are derived in relative terms, so even the top performer has room for improvement. Because the index scores are calculated by geographic type, cities should only be compared with other cities, regions with regions, and states with states.

National Equity Atlas. The National Equity Atlas is America's most detailed report card on racial and economic equity. We equip movement leaders and policymakers with actionable data and strategies to advance racial equity and shared prosperity. Racial and economic inequality are the defining issues of our time. The brutal murder of George Floyd, amidst a pandemic disproportionately harming the health and livelihoods of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people, put structural inequities at the center of our national policy debate. Dismantling systemic racism, reversing inequality, and ensuring that all people can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential are key to the success of our economy and our democracy.

Tree Canopy Maps. More than beauty and shade, trees work hard for us all. Explore how trees improve the environment in communities big and small, urban and rural… even in your own backyard! i-Tree is a combination of science and free tools that:

  • Quantifies the benefits and values of trees around the world.

  • Aids in tree and forest management and advocacy.

  • Shows potential risks to tree and forest health.

  • Is based on peer-reviewed, USDA Forest Service Research.

Park Score - Trust for Public Land. The Trust for Public Land's ParkScore index is the national gold-standard comparison of park systems across the 100 most populated cities in the United States. Published annually, the index measures park systems according to five categories: access, investment, amenities, acreage, and—new for 2021—equity. Beyond the ranking of 100 cities, the data behind the ParkScore index also reveals park access levels for nearly every city and town in the United States. This powerful tool provides communities with the information needed to help close the park equity gap. Parks are essential for public health, climate resilience, and strong connected communities. And yet, 100 million people in the U.S.—including 28 million kids—don't have a park within a 10-minute walk of home. We have the data to pinpoint where parks are needed the most.

Child Opportunity Index. Neighborhoods matter. Children who live in neighborhoods with quality early childhood education and schools, safe housing, access to healthy food, parks and playgrounds and clean air are more likely to grow into healthy, productive adults than children who don’t. The Child Opportunity Index (COI) measures and maps the quality of resources and conditions that matter for children to develop in a healthy way in the neighborhoods where they live. Underlying all our work is a commitment to equity. We believe all children deserve an equal opportunity to grow and learn. Our core question is whether all children—regardless of where they live or their race and ethnicity—have a fair chance of experiencing neighborhood conditions that help them thrive. We hope to widen the national conversation about addressing inequality to include not only income and wealth but also the neighborhood environments that our children experience. Developed in 2014 in collaboration with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, the COI has been widely used to spark conversations about unequal access to opportunity and to spur actions to increase equity. COI 2.0, launched in 2020, responds to users’ requests for an updated index and includes new data and improved methods.

Freedom in 50 States. We score all 50 states on over 200 policies encompassing fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and personal freedom. We weight public policies according to the estimated costs that government restrictions on freedom impose on their victims.

Economic Freedom Index - US Metro areas. For centuries, experts have been trying to discover why some places are so rich and others so poor. Some economists suggest that a largely unregulated system leaves individuals maximally free to pursue their own plans, spurring entrepreneurial activity and innovation. About 30 years ago, Nobel Laureate economists Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, and Douglas North, as well as a host of other economists and public policy experts, began an effort to quantify how free the economies of individual nations were. About 10 years later, that resulted in the production of the first Economic Freedom of the World report, and later a state-level version: Economic Freedom of North America (EFNA), which is now produced annually.

Index of Economic Freedom - global. Promoting Economic Opportunity, Individual Empowerment & Prosperity. For twenty-seven years, the Index of Economic Freedom has measured the impact of liberty and free markets around the globe, and the 2021 Index confirms the formidable positive relationship between economic freedom and progress.

Cappuccino Congestion Index. The Cappuccino Congestion Index shows how anything costs Americans billions and billions. We’re continuously being told that congestion is a grievous threat to urban well-being. It’s annoying to queue up for anything, but traffic congestion has spawned a cottage industry of ginning up reports that transform our annoyance with waiting in lines into an imagined economic calamity. Using the same logic and methodology that underpins these traffic studies, it's possible to demonstrate another insidious threat to the nation’s economic productivity: costly and growing coffee congestion.

Pedestrian Pain Index. Following the techniques developed over the past thirty years by the highway-oriented Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), PPI uses similar methods of assumption - to calculate the amount of time pedestrians lose each year having to wait their turn to cross the streets to allow cars to proceed.


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