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, call (904) 396-3052, or visit CommunityWorks for more information. From San Antonio to Siberia, we're ready and willing to assist.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mapping and Decision-Making

The new ArcUser magazine from ESRI begins with an important (to my way of thinking) article: Integrating GIS into the Decision-Making Process.

The article points out, "Companies, government agencies, and other organizations make decisions that have far-reaching effects, and geography affects these decisions as well." As community indicators practitioners, we encourage data-driven decision-making; perhaps we need to think about geographically-oriented data-driven decision making. Here's the argument the article makes:

Improving decision making by applying the geographic approach is one of the most compelling reasons to develop a GIS, particularly at the enterprise level and beyond. Traditional (nonspatial) decision-making processes typically involve six basic steps.

  • Identify the problem.
  • Gather information relevant to that problem.
  • Develop alternative solutions.
  • Evaluate these solutions.
  • Decide which solution best solves the problem.
  • Implement that solution and determine its effectiveness.

When applied to the real world, these steps are not purely sequential but are typically an iterative process. For example, gathering information relating to the problem identified may refine perceptions of the problem and reveal the need for additional or different kinds of information. Similarly, as alternative solutions are identified and considered, information may be reconsidered.

Applying geography improves the decision-making process by addressing problems and evaluating proposed solutions implemented in a holistic, comprehensive, systematic, analytic, and visual manner. GIS furnishes digital tools for abstracting and organizing data, modeling geographic processes, and visualizing information that enable leaders to make meaningful and effective decisions. With GIS, the analysis of problems can have greater depth as many layers of data relating to the physical and cultural world can be considered together.

Read the full article here.

How do you use mapping in your indicators efforts? What systems/software do you use? What lessons have you learned? What do you think about including geography in your community indicators measures or presentation?


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