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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

USPS Data in New Orleans

Passing along a message from Denice Warren -- I'm highly impressed with the use of non-traditional data to track such an important subject. Here's Denise's message (hat tip once again to NNIP -- if you haven't signed up yet for the listserve, please consider it!)

Good, timely statistics to track the repopulation of New Orleans and its neighborhoods are still hard to come by, so we've been digging into data from the U.S. Postal Service on households receiving mail.

We think this active mail delivery data holds a lot of promise for tracking repopulation after a large disaster such as Katrina, and have documented what we've learned about this data set in a new Research Note.

Using U.S. Postal Service Delivery Statistics to Track the Repopulation of New Orleans & the Metropolitan Area
By Allison Plyer with Joy Bonaguro

Available at: in the right column just under The Katrina Index

I've also copied below a short article on the subject that came out in the AP newswire a few days ago. If you'd like to learn even more about the data set, please let me know... we're happy to share.

-Denice Warren

Nonprofit uses neighborhood postman to track New Orleans' population
5/16/2007, 5:42 p.m. CTBy JOHN MORENO GONZALES, The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - In the ongoing effort to figure how many people are returning to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a nonprofit group released statistics Wednesday drawn from the only person responsible for daily visits to every household in the city: the neighborhood postman.

The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, a research group that has been used by government agencies and relief groups to make population-based decisions on where to funnel resources, found that 61.9 percent of New Orleans households receiving mail before the storm were doing so again as of March.Backtracking to August 2006, when researchers said New Orleans post offices themselves had recovered enough to be a reliable source, the figure was 49.5 percent. In November 2006, it grew to 55.2 percent. In February, it was 60.3 percent.

Researchers said the statistics, which were compiled from monthly letter carrier reports on "inactive" mailboxes, had their limitations. But they said the numbers were also up-to-date evidence that New Orleans is making a labored, but consistent, population comeback.

"The postal counts indicate people who are already in their houses, which does not account for a lot of active construction," said Allison Plyer, manager of the data center. "But it's unique because the information is published monthly. And it's objective."

The hurricane has forced demographers to find innovative ways to measure the population of New Orleans. Utility hookups have been the most widely reported method, with the local firm GCR & Associates using that information to find this month that there was a 14 percent jump in the city's residents since a July 2006 U.S. Census Bureau tally.GCR's estimate shows that 56 percent of the 454,000 people who lived in New Orleans before the storm had returned, with residents increasingly returning to the hardest hit areas. The postal records showed a similar trend, with heavily flooded neighborhoods like Broadmoor, Gentilly and Lakeview showing increased rates of postal delivery.

"Surprisingly, some parts of the more moderate income Gentilly may be repopulating more quickly than higher income Lakeview," said Plyer. "This may be slightly deceptive in that Lakeview residents are more likely to have resources to live elsewhere while rebuilding their house, whereas Gentilly residents may be more likely to live in FEMA trailers on their own property."


Post a Comment