Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Century of the City

Rank the world’s most powerful cities.

What cities did you consider? What factors did you grade them on? What factors were most important? Not quite as easy as you thought? Researchers from The Mori Memorial Foundation (Tokyo, Japan) studied what differentiates today’s metropolises and created the “Global Power City Index 2009,” a ranking of the world’s thirty-five most powerful cities.

Four of the researchers, Heizo Takenaka, Keio University, Hiroo Ichikawa, Meiji University, Takayuki Kubo, Mori Memorial Foundation, and Saskia Sassen, Columbia University, presented their findings to the Columbia University community on Tuesday, November 10th at Avery Hall. An appropriate location since New York received the top ranking in the “Global Power City Index” followed by London, Paris, Tokyo and Singapore at number five.

While the Columbia community may be tempted to brag about our city’s top ranking, the researchers stressed that the purpose of the study was not to simply state which cities are best. Rather, by studying which cities are most powerful researchers can isolate the factors that set successful cities apart. As Professor Sassen explained cities and the connections between them are becoming increasingly important. Experts are calling the 21st Century the century of the city. This study will serve as a tool for urban planners who can utilize the findings in developing and designing sustainable, productive and flourishing communities.

Saskia Sassen, Takayuki Kubo, and Hiroo Ichikawa answer the audience's questions about the Global Power City Index

Researchers graded cities on six functions; Economy, Research, Cultural Interaction, Livability, Ecology, and Accessibility. Sixty-nine separate indicators from taxi fare rates and quantity of green space, to the number of top 300 global companies were used for grading. What sets their study apart is its unique focus on individual users’ perception of a city. To understand different perspectives researchers selected five actors; a manager, researcher, artist, and visitor, and a resident and re-ranked the cities according to their unique viewpoints.

More information and a copy of the study can be found at the Mori Memorial Foundation. This event was sponsored by the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University, Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, and the Mori Memorial Foundation. 

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