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Chillin by the lake

Liz Chen, left, and Adrien Soutter pass time on a sunny afternoon at the edge of a dock on Lake Monona at Morrison Park on the Near East Side in Madison, Wis., Thursday, May 21, 2015. Amber Arnold -- State Journal

The AARP Public Policy Institute developed the Livability Index, a web-based tool to measure community livability.

It uses more than 50 data sources and a default and balanced category weighting system to give each community an overall livability score, as well as a score for each of seven major livability categories: housing, neighborhood, transportation, environment, health, engagement and opportunity.

Total scores of all U.S. communities range from 21 to 70. Cities with Big Ten universities score between 48 and 68 on a 100-point scale.

How does Madison score?

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A. 48

B. 58

C. 68

Answer: C. Madison’s score of 68 is one of the highest in the country and beats other Big Ten university cities by 5 to 40 points. Madison scored especially high in the area of health (prevention, access and quality) and engagement (civic and social involvement). The Livability Index website (livabilityindex.aarp.org) provides resources to help consumers and policymakers take action to make their communities more livable.

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— Bill Ryan, UW-Extension; bill.ryan@uwex.edu

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