Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Emotional Mapping Your Neighborhood

You may have seen this article in USA Today -- Artist uses polygraph, GPS to create 'emotional maps' of cities. The article tells of the work of Christian Nold, who sends volunteers into the community with handheld devices that measure both geography and emotional intensity. Then he records that information and plots in on a map. See what it looks like at his San Francisco Emotion Map page.

From the USA TODAY article:

He's the first to acknowledge the intimate portraits that result from his endeavors won't help a confused tourist get from Fisherman's Wharf to Golden Gate Park.

Instead, by taking polygraph technology out of the criminal realm, his goal is to offer a commentary on the subjective nature of reality. Maps, he notes, have always been influenced by whomever makes them, citing as an example the globes that used to show Europe as being considerably larger than Africa.

"There are different ways of mapping the city that aren't strictly about the practicalities or financial sensibilities that we usually guide our urban planning with," said Nold, 31.

I'm not sure if there's a practical aspect to this artistic effort -- yet. But the possibilities are exciting. Go to Christian Nold's website and look at the work he's doing -- he has created maps in Greenwich and Fulham -- especially look at the Mapping Fulham site (the work continues through June) -- see the map of the U.S. created as the "US geographical [b]oundries of states are reshaped by the amount of news coverage that this state receives." The link to the Charles Booth Poverty Map of Fulham 1898 raises an interesting possibility of using time-series maps to understand community conditions.

Nold adds the following: "I am very keen to collaborate with individuals, groups and institutions that are interested in social, political and environmental innovation and sustainability." If that sounds interesting, get in touch with him. This appears to be a fascinating opportunity to reshape how we communicate data to the community.


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