America's "most secure" cities include three in upstate

Dec 30, 2011

Three upstate New York cities rank in the top 20 most “secure” places to live in America. But what does that mean?

Turns out, the survey’s definition of “secure” is not simple.

Farmers Insurance Group releases the annual list, which purports to definitely define where myriad factors converge, creating an environment where citizens’ health, happiness and well-being are least threatened. 

The survey was inspired by the question of how cities have responded since 9/11,  to shore up defenses against possible perils facing modern Americans.

Rochester leads the upstate New York bunch at number two in the nation, followed by Buffalo, slotted at sixth, with Albany coming in twelfth.

UPDATED 1/3/12: Syracuse comes in fourth on the list of large cities, but we left them off of our summary of the upstate cities that made the grade - sorry about that 'Cuse!  It's probably also worth noting that Binghamton comes in fifth on the "mid-sized cities" list, and Utica-Rome comes in twelfth.  Ithaca takes the top spot on the "small towns" list, and Elmira comes in fourth.

Crime, disasters, foreclosures

The rankings are based on dozens of factors, according to a press release from Farmers Insurance:

...crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, housing depreciation, foreclosures, air quality, terrorist threats, environmental hazards, life expectancy, mortality rates from cancer and motor vehicle accidents, and job loss numbers.

“The most important part of this would be to make [people] aware that today, in this fast paced world that we live in, there are so many things that go into keeping a city safe and secure ... that need to be addressed,” says Jerry Davies, spokesman for Farmers Insurance.

Extreme weather is also a factor in the rankings, which begs the question: how did three snowy upstate cities land in this list’s top 12? Davies says that how a community responds after bad weather, like how well streets are plowed, is weighed more heavily that the amount of precipitation.

“I read and I hear and I see the weather conditions [in upstate] in terms of the wintertime,” Davies says. “But you have to take into account how extreme weather is handled by the community, not only at the government level, but also the citizens, how they can get around in that weather, how the streets are cleaned and just the overall attitude of dealing with severe weather.”