Hong Kong is the world's best city to live in, edging out Amsterdam and Osaka, according to a new ranking method that has won a competition among systems for measuring liveability. The Best City Contest, organised by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the BuzzData software firm, drew 27 entries that expanded on the unit's own liveability index for cities. The winning entry, by Italian architect Filippo Lovato, relied heavily on the internet - Google Earth and the OpenStreetMap site - to measure the 'spatial characteristics' of cities using seven indicators. 'I was a little surprised to see Hong Kong reach first place, given that it achieves only rank 13 in the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Index,' said Lovato. He calls his system the spatial adjusted liveability index. 'Hong Kong is a very compact city that has managed to maintain its natural heritage, create a dense network of green spaces and enjoy extensive links to the rest of the world. It responded very well to the addition of spatial characteristics to the liveability index.' Architect Bernard Lim Wan-fung, president of the Institute of Urban Design, said Lovato used important indicators but his approach may have overlooked hidden problems. 'He couldn't have seen divided flats and cage houses from Google Earth,' Lim said. 'Hong Kong has its advantages as a spatially compact city, but it also suffers from high intensity problems.' Despite scoring relatively poorly for pollution and cultural assets, Hong Kong scored strongly in the density, green space and natural assets categories. Lovato ranked it first out of 70 cities. It was not immediately clear whether Lovato has visited Hong Kong. Lovato measured urban sprawl by using Google Earth and the OpenStreetMap website, weighing the balance of population and settlement density in various districts. He used the two sources to evaluate the city's public green spaces. He assessed the city's natural assets - such as protected parklands, lakes and mountains - using a United Nations database. Lovato also measured cultural assets, flight connections, isolation from other large cities, and pollution. Lovato's system gave Hong Kong a score of 87.8 out of 100, just ahead of Amsterdam and Osaka at 87.4 each. The only other Asian city in the top 10, Tokyo, finished 10th at 84.3. Hong Kong ranked 70th out of 221 cities in the quality of living index released last year by human resource consultancy Mercer, behind Asian cities including Singapore, Tokyo, Kobe and Yokohama.