Malaysia Property News is a free resource website sharing Daily Property News & information about Property in Malaysia, which related to, Property Market, Property Investment, Commercial Property , Hot Properties Malaysia, Real Estate, Retail Shop, Business Park, Condominium Malaysia, Terraces & Apartment Malaysia, Houses, Residence, Resort and many more.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The liveability index and complexities of urban living

EVERY year, cities around the world are judged according to the quality of life, how safe they are and how green they are among other rankings in global surveys.

Other criteria that they are ranked on include access to healthcare, public transportation and education besides political stability, safety and culture.

Increasingly, such surveys have drawn much interest from politicians and the media with much debate on how cities are ranked and on what grounds.

“Liveability” as most will point out, is subjective. The periodic global surveys carried out judge cities on various criteria mentioned above but none are fool-proof.

Experts say developed countries are more concerned with “quality of life” and other aspects that pertain to “the good life” while their developing counterparts are more concerned with infrastructure issues.

Ramanathan Sathiamutty ... ‘If we’re going to build a smarter planet, we’ll have to start from our cities, to solve problems at the most intense pressure points.’

IBM Malaysia managing director Ramanathan Sathiamutty tells StarBizWeek that as the world continues to urbanise, problems such as transportation, food and water supply are most stressed in cities.

“If we're going to build a smarter planet, we'll have to start from our cities, to solve problems at the most intense pressure points,” he says.

Nik Ruiz Razy ... ‘Does the city provide a conducive environment for people in their everyday lives?’

Rekarancang Sdn Bhd urban designer Nik Ruiz Razy says liveability in the context of a city can basically be understood in terms of live, work and play.

“Does the city provide a conducive environment for people in their everyday lives? Does the infrastructure accommodate them? Is it safe and secure?” he asks.

Nik Ruiz says measures of liveability can be found in the time taken to commute between home and office, whether the urban living areas have the proper amenities or whether schools are located in a conducive environment.

He says cities such as Vancouver, Canada and Sydney, Australia are examples of cities where the infrastructure and people interact comfortably while Putrajaya and Kota Iskandar are some of the newer townships that have taken steps towards making their urban spaces liveable.

“These are cities which are friendly to pedestrians, where one can easily walk to work, to school or to do groceries, these are factors that may impact whether a city is liveable or not,” Nik Ruiz says.

Nevertheless, critics have argued over the rankings and the criteria used to judge the cities as oftentimes, many will argue, how livable is a city where affordability is concerned?

For example, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which is part of The Economist, has a global liveable cities index judging cities on 30 factors spread across five areas: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

The latest EIU report which came out in February 2011 again showed Vancouver as the world's most liveable among 140 cities surveyed.

This is the fifth year in a row that Vancouver has been named the most liveable city in the world. Kuala Lumpur was ranked in the bottom half 78th, improving from 79th.

Underscoring the affordability argument is the fact that the top 10 in the EIU survey are made up of cities that are by no means the most expensive but certainly are where most ordinary wage earners are concerned.

Furthermore, a city's liveability will often mean how attractive it is to businesses and people. A number of global human resource consultancies including Mercer LLC, which publishes the annual “Quality of Living Survey”, also use these surveys to advise their clients on how to compensate their employees.

As many observers and various news reports have showed, successful cities will not only attract the requisite investments as businesses relocate all or part of their operations in that city but also lure smart people.

However, smart people will only come if there are good schools for that matter.

In Malaysia, this has become an area of concern as the mediocre public education system including the universities, while universally accessible, has driven quite a number of people who can afford it to send their children abroad to study.

HELP University College co-founder and president Datuk Dr Paul Chan says universities are also recruiting grounds for corporations and are important for research and development.

“The university is an integral part of a metropolitan area,” he remarks, adding that they also exist in a “symbiotic relationship” with museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions to make a city attractive to talent.

Chan says universities also provide thought leadership and are part of a socio-political spectrum of institutions that challenges the status quo on issues of the day such as corruption, the environment and governance.

For HELP's vice-president and dean of the faculty of applied sciences and multimedia Dr Choong Yeow Wei, the availability of good schools ranks high for families who relocate.

“That's a very important factor to consider when moving to another country, that's why Singapore has managed to attract foreign talent,” he says.

So where does policy stand in defining how liveable Kuala Lumpur will be in the years to come?

The Performance Management & Delivery Unit (Pemandu) of the Prime Minister's Department estimates that some RM172bil will be needed over the next 10 years to bring Kuala Lumpur and its surrounds to simultaneously achieve “a top-20 ranking in city economic growth while being among the global top-20 most liveable cities”.

It has been estimated by Pemandu that Kuala Lumpur's population will grow by 5% per year over the decade to 2020 while gross national income (GNI) will grow by 10% a year.

Forming part of the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley national key economic area identified under the Economic Transformation Programme, the city and its surrounds will get 34% of the funding from public-sector sources for public transportation, covered walkways, river rehabilitation, parks and redevelopment among others.

Ramanathan says IBM's “Smarter City” framework, which highlights six areas of focus, namely: government services, education, public safety, healthcare, energy and utilities and transportation is very much in line with the National Key Result Areas under the Government Transformation Programme.

“IBM defines a smarter city as one that makes optimal use of all the interconnected information available today in order to better understand and control its operations and optimise the use of limited resources,” he says.

Ramanathan says there is no single global model to apply to the unique conditions of a given city. “But there are guidelines that cities can use to help frame their thinking and their solutions, and today those guidelines should include the Smarter City idea,” he says.

Ramanathan points out that local leaders need to identify the critical challenges confronting the city; then they harness the collaborative efforts of a public-private-people relationship; and consciously leverage the “smarter” elements of information and communications technologies to tackle the issues.

He says technology can help in creating great centres of business and culture, promote strong education and health services and grow in ways both dynamic and sustainable where city governments do not have adequate budgets to address all of their city's challenges and achieve their primary objective - to increase prosperity for their citizens.

Ramanathan says the right technology is needed to support decision-making.

“When city leaders use the right information, they can make better decisions and have more insight into the impacts of their decisions. But truthfully, the majority of our cities have more information than they know how to use,” he adds.

By The Star

No comments: