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.

The Jacksonville Community Council (JCCI) understands indicators and community change, with more than 25 years of producing the annual Quality of Life Progress Report for Jacksonville and the Northeast Florida region, and two decades of helping other communities develop their own sustainable indicators projects. JCCI consultants give you the information you need to measure progress, identify priorities for action, and assess results.

I'd like to talk with you personally about how we can help. E-mail me at
ben@jcci.org, call (904) 396-3052, or visit CommunityWorks for more information. From San Antonio to Siberia, we're ready and willing to assist.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Florida Planning Toolbox Benchmark Tools

CUES (the Catanese Center for Urban & Environmental Solutions at Florida Atlantic University)just sent me an announcement of their Florida Planning Toolbox. I went immediately to the section on benchmarking tools to see what they had to say.

Here's their announcement:

CUES, in partnership with the Florida Department of Community Affairs, is proud to announce the release of the Florida Planning Toolbox, an effort to further regional visioning initiatives in Florida by providing descriptions and examples of planning tools designed to protect and enhance natural resources, promote economic prosperity for all residents, and enable a sustainable quality of life. Tools have been compiled in sixteen broad categories, including agricultural land conservation, benchmarking, climate change, coastal planning, diversity and social equity, economic development, education and health, fiscal analysis & financing, housing, infill and redevelopment, land use planning & development, military-community growth planning, natural systems conservation, public involvement & education, transportation planning, and water resource planning. This issue of CUES News highlights some of the tools contained in the toolbox. The entire toolbox can be accessed in print and web-friendly versions at www.cuesfau.org/toolbox.

Here's what I saw:

The section on benchmarking tools separates out community scorecards and audits and community indicators.

They define "community scorecards and audits" as "A community scorecard or audit is a qualitative monitoring tool used by citizens and public officials to evaluate how well existing policies, projects, and plans meet a set of defined principles or to monitor progress in selected topic areas."

On the other hand, "Community indicators enable a community to understand where it has been and where it is going and identify areas for improvement to achieve a different outcome. Indicators projects use measurable data to shed light on trends (both positive and negative) for a current issue or, more typically, for a combination of issues that affects a community’s quality of life and economic well-being."

I really like the folks at CUES, and they do good work -- we've talked about their South Florida Indicators website before. But I find it hard to draw a clear dividing line between the "community scorecard" and "community indicators" types of projects, especially since the community scorecard model they highlight is that of SCOPE, which was directly modeled initially after the report featured under community indicators, that of JCCI. Maybe some of you can help me see the difference.

In any case, their new site is a nice tool and helps promote the use of community indicators (and scorecards!) in planning, which is A Good Thing. Congratulations, CUES!

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