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New Online Tool Measures Community Livability

The city of Jackson is working on becoming an "Age Friendly" city, with programs including geo-mapping handicapped parking spaces. (Pixabay)
The city of Jackson is working on becoming an "Age Friendly" city, with programs including geo-mapping handicapped parking spaces. (Pixabay)
March 27, 2018

CASPER, Wyo. – A new online tool launched by AARP allows anyone to see how their community stacks up against others in Wyoming and across the nation on its "livability" score. The index is available online at www.aarp.org/livabilityindex, and when you enter your location, the site crunches a lot of data to paint a comprehensive picture of what communities have to offer.

Sam Shumway, the state director of AARP Wyoming, says while each community in the state is unique, the new index helps identify areas they're doing well in and opportunities for improvement.

"But there are certain amenities and resources that are necessary to make a community livable," he says. "To make it so that people can age in place so that they have access to health care so that there are opportunities for social engagement and service. And then the big areas like housing and transportation."

The 2018 AARP Community Challenge is now accepting applications to fund projects designed to help neighborhoods, towns and cities to become great places for all ages. Shumway says the biggest priorities for improving livability include increasing transportation options, improving open spaces and parks, and creating more affordable housing.

In 2017, both Casper and Jackson earned "Age-Friendly Community" designations, after elected officials committed to meeting the needs of all residents. Shumway says the new index can play an important role in helping communities improve services.

"Whether that's to spark conversation, whether that's to drive policy, or whether that's to say 'hey, this might be an opportunity to get involved with the age-friendly work,'" he explains. "It's a way to take a hard and data-driven look at each and every community in the state."

Wyoming scored higher in livability than all surrounding states with the exception of Nebraska and South Dakota, mainly because of high marks for civic engagement, environment and opportunity. The state's scores for neighborhood, health care, and transportation fell below surrounding states.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY