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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cross-posted: Instant Atlas Blog

Here's a piece I wrote for the Instant Atlas blog -- thought I'd cross-post it for those of you following along here.

Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI) began using Instant Atlas to display its Quality of Life Progress Report community indicators in September of 2009. For the first 18 months, we used the Single Map Template to show approximately 125 indicators, many of them stretching back over 25 years, in a way that was revolutionary for our community. People throughout our community, from policy-makers to grant writers to community advocates, appreciated the ease and clarity with which they could get the data they needed. On our part, we appreciated the freedom from the constraints of the printed report, allowing us to update information as soon as it was released (often beating the local newspaper to the publication of new data.)


Beginning last month, we decided to see how our community would react to seeing some of the other tools Instant Atlas has to offer. When we used the Double Map Template and began playing with the scatterplot tools, we started to see interesting (and sometimes unexpected) correlations that we could verify over time. In fact, the use of this template helped provide a definitive answer if one of our indicators truly was still a significant and useful measure today. (It was, much more than anticipated.)

If the scatterplot tool, allowing comparisons between two indicators, revealed such interesting information, we wondered what the Bubble Plot Template might show? Once we began examining relationships among four indicators at the same time, we began to see targeted opportunities for additional research and policy direction. For example, when examining high school graduation rates, we found school districts that were overperforming in relation to the social and economic conditions within the district, and other districts that were underperforming – including districts with a reputation for excellence. Suddenly, we were able to bring together useful information in a compelling visual display with the ability to reshape community conversations around priorities and policies – and the data is available for anyone in our community to check for themselves.


You can see how we’re using Instant Atlas at www.jcci.org.

11 comments:

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