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Which cities are best to survive a zombie apocalypse?

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Whilst much of the population believe that a zombie apocalypse is little more than a fictitious scenario, a number of Brits still fear the possibility, with pop culture leading some to believe that a zombie takeover remains a reasonable explanation of how the world might end. But if zombies were to take over, how prepared would your city be?

Energy comparison site SaveOnEnergy sought to reveal which UK cities are most and least likely to survive a zombie apocalypse by creating a zombie survival index.

The index

We ranked each city and awarded points out of 100 based on eight different factors: solar energy produced per year, farming area, the number of farmers per city, air quality, outdoor space, recycling centres, wind farms, and the number of electric vehicle charging points.

The cities with the highest total scores were deemed most likely to survive. Find out where your city ranks...

Which cities are most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Topping the list with a score of 348 out of 700 is Cambridge. According to our index, the city is most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse after being awarded the highest number of points available for the number of onshore wind farms and recycling centres, and scoring highly for the percentage of farmland available.

Following closely behind in second is Swansea. When taking into account each of the eight ‘survival’ factors, the Welsh city is not only home to the most outdoor space per 100,000 population, it also has vast amounts of farmland that could be used in the event of an apocalypse and farmers, thus resulting in a score of 341 points out of a possible 700.

Rounding off the top three cities most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse is Belfast, with a final score of 329 out of 700. Our research found that the Northern Irish capital is home to the third-highest number of onshore wind farms, has a large farming community and some of the most farmlands of all cities studied.

Which cities are least likely to survive a zombie apocalypse?

Our index also revealed the cities least likely to survive a zombie apocalypse. At the bottom of the list are Oxford, Preston and Derby.

Oxford was revealed to be the least likely city to survive a zombie apocalypse, with a final score of just 82 out of 700. Despite having some of the most farmland of all cities studied, Oxford was let down by its lack of onshore wind farms, lack of outdoor space, and clean air.

Preston is the second least likely city to survive a zombie apocalypse, with just 104 points out of 700. The Lancashire based city had one of the lowest farming populations and had some the least parks per 100,000 population, leading us to believe that they will fare badly in the event of a zombie-induced collapse of civilisation.

With a score of just 108 out of 700 in total, Derby is the third least likely city to survive a zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, Derby had one of the worst air qualities of the cities studied, and also one of the lowest numbers of recycling centres per 100,000 people in the population, thus resulting in a low overall score.

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A breakdown of survival factors in each city

Our zombie survival index sought to find out which cities are least prepared for a zombie apocalypse based on each of the eight different factors: solar energy produced per year, farming area, the number of farmers per city, air quality, outdoor space, recycling centres, wind farms, and the number of electric vehicle charging points. The breakdown is as follows:

Yearly solar energy production 

Based on our analysis of yearly solar energy production in each city, Bournemouth ranks in first place with the city producing an impressive 1,262 kWh of energy each year, resulting in a score of 100 points out of a possible 100.

On average, household electricity consumption is around 10 kWh per day, which means the city provides around 126 days of electricity per year. Therefore, in a zombie apocalypse when electricity cuts out, residents would be able to use solar power for just over four months!

Plymouth comes in second producing 1,190 kWh annually, which is equivalent to around 119 days of electricity usage (just under four months). As a result, the city was awarded 82 points out of a possible 100 in our index.

With 10 points less than Plymouth (72) is the Welsh city of Swansea, which generates 1,150 kWh of electricity each year, on average. That means in an apocalypse, residents would have solar power for around 115 days (or just over three and a half months) before electricity runs out.

By comparison, the Scottish city of Glasgow falls in last place, with zero points awarded in our index for producing just 862 kWh of electricity each year - equivalent to just 86 days (just under three months).

Armagh City ranks in second to last, with 871 kWh of electricity being generated each year, on average, which means electricity would last for 87 days when power is cut in an apocalypse! Thus, our zombie survival index awarded the city just two points, out of a possible 100.

Aberdeen, another Scottish city to rank among the least, generates just 884 kWh annually - 378 kWh less than Bournemouth in first place. Bearing in mind this means that electricity would last 88 days (just under three months), our index awarded Aberdeen a score of six points.

Proportion of farming area 

If in the middle of a zombie apocalypse with access to no food or supplies, farms would be the go-to location to grow crops and be self-sufficient. After analysing land data to find out how much of each city’s region is covered by farmland, we can reveal that Leicester, Nottingham, and Northampton came out on top with 100 points each in our index. Our research found that more than three-quarters of land in each of these cities is covered by farmed area (76%).

Following closely behind in second are the Northern Irish cities of Newry, Armagh City, and Belfast. Our analysis can reveal that 75% of each city is covered by farmland - the ideal scenario when needing to grow crops in a zombie apocalypse!

Meanwhile, for obvious reasons, the City of London was awarded zero points due to having just 9% of farmland.

Percentage of farmers per city

After establishing land to grow crops on, the knowledge of an experienced farmer would be beneficial to ensure crops can grow successfully. As a result, we worked out how many farmers there are per city and converted this into a percentage of the city’s population.

In joint first place with the largest farming population are the Welsh cities of Swansea, Cardiff, and Newport, with 1.86% of the population made up of farmers, resulting in each being awarded 100 points in our zombie survival index.

The Northern Irish cities of Belfast, Armagh City, and Newry come in second and are awarded 85 points, with 1.63% of the population being farmers. Third goes to Stoke-on-Trent, Coventry, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham, with 1.48% of the population taken up by farmers, resulting in 74 points for each city.

Comparatively, the cities with the lowest percentage of their population made up of farmers were the North Eastern cities of Sunderland and Newcastle upon Tyne. Both cities were awarded zero points as farmers make up just 0.40% of their city’s population. Preston, Manchester, and Liverpool come in joint second with just 0.45% farmers, resulting in a score of just four out of 100.

Onshore wind farms 

Onshore wind farms help to generate electricity through the use of wind, which is useful in a zombie apocalypse when electricity is sparse or non-existent. As a result, we investigated the number of wind farms in each city around the UK.

Neighbouring cities Cambridge and Peterborough come in joint first place, with 24 wind farms per city, thus scoring 100 points each out of a possible 100 in our zombie survival index.

Following behind in second is Belfast, with 19 wind farms found in the Northern Irish capital, thus resulting in 79 points. Manchester, Northampton, and Preston rank in joint third place, with 14 wind farms each, resulting in a score of 58 in our index.

On the other end of the scale, Armagh City, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Coventry, Newry, Oxford, Portsmouth, and Southampton were awarded zero points due to having no operational onshore wind farms.

Recycling centres per 100,000 population 

When in a zombie apocalypse, recycling centres can provide a whole host of items to help with day-to-day life, like wood for fires or old used furniture. As a result, our index also looked at the number of recycling centres per 100,000 people in each city.

Full marks were awarded to the city of Cambridge, once again, with 5.68 recycling centres per 100,000 people. Second and third place go to Newry and Armagh City, both situated in Northern Ireland, with 5.56 and 5.15 recycling centres per 100,000 population. As a result, our index has awarded 98 and 90 points, respectively.

On the other hand, our zombie survival index awarded the least number of points Nottingham (0) for having just 0.14 recycling centres per 100,000 people, on average. Following closely behind are Liverpool and Coventry, with 0.23 and 0.28 recycling centres per city, respectively, resulting in just 2 and 3 points out of a possible 100.

Air quality

Our index also looked into the air quality of each city, as this is another important factor in determining whether a city may be able to survive a zombie apocalypse. We deducted points based on how bad the quality of air is in each UK city.

With the best air quality levels recorded of all UK cities studied, first place goes to Bristol, resulting in the city having no points deducted. Reading came in second place with -6 points being deducted, followed by York with a deduction of -8.

However, the city of Swansea had 100 points deducted from their overall score in our zombie survival index for having poor air quality levels. Also among the worst were Bournemouth with 90 points deducted from their overall score, and Derby and Nottingham with a deduction of 89 points.

Parks per 100,000 population

As part of our study, we also investigated how many parks are available per 100,000 people in each city, to determine how much green space is available for residents to take advantage of in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Topping the list once again is the Welsh city of Swansea, with our analysis revealing that those residing in this city have access to 45.8 parks per 100,000 population and resulting in 100 points out of a possible 100 in our index.

The city of Bristol follows behind in second, with 36.5 parks per 100,000 population, resulting in a score of 79 out of 100. Stoke-on-Trent comes in third after being awarded 68 points for their 31.7 parks per 100,000 population.

On the other end of the scale, Preston and Newport were awarded zero points each after our analysis identified that residents had just 2.2 and 2.3 parks per 100,000 people, respectively. Reading and Glasgow follow behind with two and three points in our index as a result of having 3.1 and 3.5 parks per 100,000 people.

Electric charging points per 100,000 population

If you’re looking to escape a zombie apocalypse but only have an electric car, the main concern would be “how can I charge it?”. This led us to analyse the number of electric vehicle (EV) charging points per 100,000 population.

When investigating the number of charging points, we can reveal that London came out on top with an impressive 370 available in the capital. It’s no wonder the capital was awarded 100 points out of a possible 100 in our zombie survival index.

In joint second are Coventry and Dundee, with 69 charging points per 100,000 population - a staggering 301 less than London. The stark difference results in a score of just 17 out of 100 in our index. Third goes to the city of Oxford, with 59 devices recorded within the city, resulting in a score of 14 out of 100.

Our index awarded the lowest points to Birmingham and Northampton, with zero points awarded for both cities due to having just eight and nine electric vehicle charging points each. Wolverhampton, Kingston upon Hull, and Stoke-on-Trent were each awarded one point each for having 11, 12 and 13 charging units, respectively.

Methodology:

1. To determine which UK cities were to be studied, a list was compiled of the top 40 UK cities by population. These were the subjects of the index.

2. The index was then compiled of eight different factors which included the following:

Solar energy production demonstrates the amount of annual energy (KWh) that a fix-angle PV system can produce given the annual sunlight available to a given city. Data for most of the cities are sourced from https://www.vouchercloud.com/resources/best-solar-panel-cities and the remaining data were found from https://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvg_tools/en/tools.html.

The farming area shows the proportion of each city's region that is covered by farmland. Data were sourced from Defra Statistics: Agricultural Facts for regions in England and https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/statistics-and-research/2019-07/farming-facts-and-figures-2019-492.pdf for Wales .

The proportion of farmers represents the percentage of each city's regional population that is made up of farmers. Data were sourced from Defra Statistics: Agricultural Facts.

The number of wind farms reflects the number of operational onshore wind farms for the county in which each city is located. The data is sourced from The Renewable Energy Planning Database and is up to date as of September 2020 (Q3).

Recycling centres per 100,000 population were found by looking at each city's local council website and counting the number of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

Air quality represents the air quality index for each city sourced from https://aqicn.org/map/unitedkingdom/. Figures are on a scale from 0 to 500; where 0-50 is Good, 51-100 is Moderate, 101-150 is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, 151-200 is Unhealthy, 201-300 is Very Unhealthy, and 300+ is Hazardous. Poor air quality is expected to reduce the chances of a city's survival. Therefore, the results have been multiplied by (-1) in the normalised data to reflect this.

Parks per 100,000 population show the availability of outdoor space. Found by noting the number of parks from each local authority website. Majority sourced from https://www.comparethemarket.com/energy/content/greenest-cities/.

EV charging point data shows the number of charging points for electric vehicles in each city has per 100,000 population. Data was sourced from http://maps.dft.gov.uk/ev-charging-map/.

3. To account for differing units of measurement between the above variables, min-max normalisation was used. For every measure, the minimum value of that measure gets transformed into a 0, the maximum value gets transformed into a 1, and every other value gets transformed into a decimal between 0 and 1. Xnormalised = (X - Xmin)/(Xmax - Xmin). This value was then multiplied by 100.