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Methodology: New England’s Best Cities 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013


A broad look at economics, crime, schools, health and quality of life metrics combined to make Cambridge, MA the #1 city in New England.

To rank New England’s Best Cities 2013 GoLocal assessed the 5 largest cities in each state in the region--Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine--to give each state equal stake in the ranking list.

From there, we collected data from public sources for 17 metrics across five areas: Economics/Prosperity, Safety, Culture, Health, and Overall Quality of Life. Each area was quantified with the following data (for the sources for each criteria, see note, below):

Median Household Income
Unemployment Rate
Cost of Living (percent of national average)

Violent Crime per capita
Property Crime per capita

Arts-Related Businesses per capita
Accredited Academic Institutions per capita
Education level (% with BA or higher)
Quality of Public Schools (utilizing the GreatSchools Index)

Physicians per 100K population
Air Quality (utilizing the EPA’s Air Quality Index)

Quality of Life
Number of Wireless Hotspots per capita
Walkability (utilizing Walkscore.com’s Walkability Index)
Average Commute Time
Great Weather (sunny days and precipitation days)
Parks and Recreation Spots per capita
Public Libraries per capita (new for 2013)

From these data points, GoLocal calculated statistical analyses that compared each of these cities to each other, providing regional averages against which each city was subsequently assessed. A proprietary weighting formula was then applied to yield the final rankings.

To see the full ranking of all 30 cities, go here.

The following sources were utilized to provide the most recent and consistent data for all 30 cities in the survey: Median Household Income/US Census 2010; Unemployment Rate/Sperling’s BestPlaces (www.bestplaces.net); Cost of Living (percent of national average)/Sperling’s BestPlaces; Violent Crime/FBI 2011; Property Crime/FBI 2011 (note: 2011 data for Providence, RI, and Burlington, VT, were incomplete, according to the FBI, so 2010 data was utilized); Arts-Related Businesses/Americans for the Arts (www.artsusa.org); Accredited Academic Institutions/US Census 2010; Education level (% with BA or higher)/US Census 2010; Quality of Public Schools/GreatSchools Index (www.greatschools.org); Physicians per 100K population/Sperling’s BestPlaces; Air Quality Index/EPA; Number of Wireless Hotspots/JiWire Global registry (v4.jwire.com); Walkability/Walkscore.com; Average Commute Time/US Census 2010; Weather (days with some sun, days with some precipitation)/Sperling’s BestPlaces; Parks and Recreation Spots/municipal Web sites & personnel, Public Libraries/Sperling's BestPlaces.


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