What is a liveable city?

Connected Society 7 November 2017 Peter Andreas Norn

Clean air, affordable housing and better prevention against crime, floods and traffic accidents. These are some of the main areas in which local authorities can increase their efforts, says a new survey.

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We all have a sense of what a liveable city is, but it is not easy to define. In the run-up to the Danish local elections in autumn 2017, Ramboll conducted a survey in which the research institute YouGov interviewed more than 3,200  Danish citizens about what makes a city attractive to them. (The survey was done in the five biggest Danish cities and two typical provincial towns – Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg, Esbjerg, Vejle and Køge).

Among the key findings are: 

  • Clean air is among the most important conditions for liveability – and citizens are not satisfied with the authorities’ efforts in the area. 
  • Safety is vital – both traffic safety and crime prevention – and citizens are also dissatisfied on this count.There is also a gap between the demand for affordable housing and its availability. 
  • Mobility is another definite priority – and a majority find better conditions for pedestrians, bicycles and public transport more important than better conditions for cars. 
  • Green areas and urban nature are very important, especially in Copenhagen – in fact green areas are the most important aspect of liveability in the capital. 
  • Citizens see flood resiliency as less of a priority than most of the other factors mentioned above, but still expressed dissatisfaction with what they felt was too low a level of climate protection. 

In 2018 Ramboll is presenting the survey findings and recommendations to Danish local authorities. We have been working to improve liveability in cities for decades – and have helped generate measurable results, not least in Copenhagen.

2014 was, for example, the third year that the influential international magazine Monocle declared the Danish capital the world’s most liveable city. And urban planners worldwide are increasingly looking to the Nordics for inspiration on taking a holistic and integrated approach.

Cities the world over face similar challenges, so cities outside Denmark will also be able to use some of the recommendations from this survey.