Methodology for Establishing Well-Being Urban Indicators at the District Level to be Used on the CityScope Platform

Dec. 22, 2020


Orii, L., Alonso, L. and Larson, K., 2020. Methodology for Establishing Well-Being Urban Indicators at the District Level to be Used on the CityScope Platform. Sustainability, 12(22), p.9458.


The MIT Media Lab City Science Group reshapes and reevaluates well-being as an emerging key indicator due the social challenges that cities are facing, such as inequality, police violence, and breaches to safety and security. Well-being in urban environments has been studied extensively, yet most research focuses on one aspect of well-being rather than multiple dimensions of well-being. Existing well-being indices that are used to compare well-being between different countries or to set a standards for well-being consider a variety of aspects that affect well-being, yet they are not specific to urban environments. When considering that no holistic and comprehensive research has been specifically conducted on well-being in urban environments, we research the relationship between the built features of an urban environment and well-being. In this paper, we propose a Well-Being Index composed of five urban indicators—Community Connectedness, Safety & Security, Physical Health, Mental Health, and Diversity—which are each described by a set of urban attributes that enhance well-being. Each attribute is quantified using a calculation formula. In addition to quantifying well-being, the Well-Being Index emphasizes specific urban features that urban planners should consider for future decision-making. We apply the Well-Being Index to predict well-being in Boston, Massachusetts, and Kansas City, Missouri, and we speculate that Boston has higher levels of well-being in terms of the city’s urban features. Based on our results, we provide suggestions for future choices in urban planning and design to improve the areas of well-being that we were able to identify with the Well-Being Index. We emphasize that the Well-Being Index can be applied to any city in the world, and can inform future decision-making for building urban environments through the CityScope platform; a novel methodology of interaction and collaboration by using a data-driven platform that simulates the impacts of interventions on urban ecosystems prior to detail-design and execution. 

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