In an effort to help planning committees and consumers, alike, create more age-friendly communities, AARP announced this week the launch of its new Livability Index.
“We created it based on the needs and preferences of older Americans, but the goal is to create communities for all ages,” said Debra Whitman, AARP’s chief public policy officer, at the American Planning Association (APA) conference Monday. “We see this as a catalyst for change and action, both when we’re planning and investing in making changes, to see where those investments can have the biggest impact.”
The tool allows users to search specific geographic areas to determine the location’s livability with respect to seven categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity.
In total, there are about 50 different measures that encompass these categories, and ultimately determine a community’s livability score. The scores range from 0 to 100, although the average score in the U.S. is 50, Whitman says.
Designed as an interactive website, the Index allows users to not only compare communities, but also adjust scores based on their personal preferences and learn how to take action to make their communities more livable.
Within each of the seven categories are “policies” and “resources” tabs, which provide users with additional information on the respective scores the categories received. With this information, users can better plan what actions to take to transform their communities.
“Our ultimate goal is to be using this tool … to change the dynamics of our aging society,” Whitman said.
The Livability Index is part of AARP’s broader initiative to create a nationwide network of age-friendly communities — a model that champions older residents’ needs and requires mayors and city councils to commit to developing a plan centered around criteria similar to that in the Index: health, transportation, housing, outdoor space, social participation, social inclusion, civic engagement and communication.
Currently there are 52 U.S. cities in the network, representing roughly 30 million Americans.
Access the Livability Index here.
Written by Emily Study