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, November 5, 2008

Report Release: Twin Cities Compass

I received a nice note from Craig Helmstetter, Senior Research Scientist at Wilder Research. They've just released a new community indicators report called Twin Cities Compass. They're interested in the reaction of the indicators community to their format/structure and the indicator selection -- check out the report in PDF (two pages!) at

Here's what I find so intriguing about the report. One of the challenges we have is how to convey a lot of information quickly and clearly so that it captures the imagination and informs the public. Here they have nine elements defining progress for the region:

  • civic engagement;
  • early childhood;
  • economy and workforce;
  • education;
  • environment;
  • health;
  • housing;
  • public safety; and
  • transportation.

Each section has between two and four indicators. For each indicator, there's an arrow showing the trendline -- better or worse. There's a national comparison (one to three "compass rose" symbols showing better, same, or worse), and columns for Y or N under disparities in income, place, or race. Then there's a column for sources, and on the back a timeline of the activities that got them to this point.

The website is where you can find the actual data and more information on each indicator --

I love the attention to the disparities -- the devil's in the disaggregations, as we've mentioned before -- and the indicator set seems pretty good. There's an opportunity to use sparklines instead of/along with arrows to show trends, which might be interesting in a future report. And the compass symbols are more distracting than information -- I had to keep going back to the legend to figure out what they meant, and since it's printing in color the red-yellow-green color scheme might have worked better. And I wish there were not so many N/A's on the page -- even blank spots would have been preferable/less distracting.

But that's nit-picking. Overall, a really nice effort, especially in putting together a companion printed overview piece with a more in-depth interactive website effort. And with plenty of community engagement. Well done!


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