Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2012

Best cities ranking and report

July 2012

Economist Intelligence Unit


Earlier this year the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) teamed up with data sharing company BuzzData to host a competition offering users the opportunity to combine data from the Worldwide Cost of Living and Liveability surveys with other sources to provide a ranking of their own. Here Jon Copestake, the Editor of the EIU’s Cost of Living and Liveability surveys, discusses his experience of the competition. If there’s one thing that becomes apparent when working on rankings, especially rankings that are close to people’s hearts (or wallets) like liveability and the cost of living, it’s that everyone has an opinion. In over a decade of working on these reports I’ve received a constant flow of feedback and opinion—much of it constructive and well thought out—on the reports and rankings that we publish. The EIU is always looking to improve its products, and these two highly visible rankings are no exception. The fact that they elicit such a strong public reaction makes them ideal candidates for feedback and finding ways that we can improve our offerings. With this in mind we embarked—along with BuzzData—on a competition challenging entrants to find new ways of visualising and expressing the data as well as adding in series that may be important for future consideration. In opening up the survey to others we also wanted to explore possible limits to the coverage of new data and whether we could accurately discover new series or innovative approaches that would enable us to enhance the city-based scoring system we use.