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.

Showing posts with label community indicators. Show all posts
Showing posts with label community indicators. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

SA 2020 Update

On March 19, we completed the first phase of the SA 2020 process with a public release and written report (available here.)  It was an amazing experience as the people of San Antonio came together to reach a shared vision for the future, develop metrics (community indicators) to measure their progress, and commit to action to reach their goals. (Pictured is the December forum where the groups determined their key indicators they would like to see measured in each of the themes of the report.)

The SA 2020 initiative focused on what San Antonio could look like in the year 2020, and enjoyed both wide community participation and widespread support.  Of particular interest to those who might be considering similar initiatives in their communities, Mayor Julián Castro focused on the SA 2020 initiative as a key feature of his first term in office, and was re-elected with 82 percent of the vote.

The work on implementing SA 2020 continues. This week, Mayor Castro briefed the White House on SA2020 and its goals, adding: SA 2020 "produced specific marks for the community to meet," Castro said. “That has value as other communities look to develop plans.”

I'm reminded of what Becky Morgan, of the Morgan Family Foundation, said while introducing an indicator report they supported:

In a time when our neighbors listen to elected officials or other established leaders and wonder who to believe, indicator reports serve as a civic-based tool to re-build this country’s social capital … our trust in each other, our willingness to find common vision and values, our engagement in collaborative civic work to solve problems that confront us. But most of all, they help to build a commitment to stewardship, to pass along to our children and grandchildren a country of many regions that are much improved over those left to us. Such commitment to progress is also a commitment to measure our progress … honestly and with open hearts and minds. This is the promise of the regional indicator movement in our state and our country.

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Press Release: Open Indicators Consortium

Here's the press release from the Open Indicators Consortium:

June 14, 2011

From across the nation, local, regional and state data partners have collaborated with a team of 20 faculty and graduate students at one of the world’s top data visualization labs in the Open Indicators Consortium to create Weave (Web-based Analysis and Visualization Environment), a high performance web-based open source software platform. Weave allows users to explore, analyze, visualize and disseminate data online from any location at any time.

The Open Indicator Consortium’s goal is to transform publicly available data into visually compelling and actionable indicators to inform public policy and community-based decision makers. Since 2008, the Open Indicators Consortium (OIC) has brought together technical and academic experts, data providers and data users. With its technical lead and partner the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Institute for Visualization and Perception Research, the OIC is soft-launching Weave 1.0 BETA in preparation for the official release of Weave 1.0 in the mid-fall.

The Weave core code is being released under the GNU General Public License version 3 (GPLv3), and the Weave API under the Mozilla Public License (MPL v 1.1).

Full documentation is available through The code is available for download now at These releases provide all that is needed to implement Weave.

More information can be found here.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Community Indicators and the Visioning Process

I've been busy with the SA2020 community visioning exercise for San Antonio, Texas and we just moved into the part of the process where the community is engaged in developing indicators to measure progress towards reaching their community vision.  

Two of the youth participants at the last forum.
The shirts say, "My voice was heard. SA2020"

I received a good comment back from the exercise, and thought I might share the answer I provided with you for your comment and discussion.

I was glad to participate in my third SA2020 event. This time I found that the process was ahead of where it should be. We were instructed to develop measures for determine how visions were being realized. Since visions are not concrete, I found this difficult. There should be a step of designing strategies for bringing visions into reality. These strategies can and should be measured. I love participating in the very worthy SA2020 process. Thank you for considering my opinion.

Here's my response: This is a good comment, and there’s a critically important reason why community indicators need to be used at this point in the process, prior to the development of strategies.

Indicators operationalize the vision statements; they take the abstract notions of community well-being and clarify them with specific measures of the intended/desired outcomes. These outcome measures then serve as a framework within which strategies can be constructed. This allows the strategies to proceed with the end in mind and focus those efforts on important aspects of the quality of life. The measures also allow for an upper-level evaluation of the effectiveness of the strategies in influencing the vision statements.

With the indicators in place, strategies can be developed – and when strategies are developed, they should be accompanied with specific process and performance metrics. The use of measures at this stage of the process does not remove the need for measurements for each of the action steps, which [the commenter] is right to observe. However, we have often seen communities that focus entirely on performance measures for specific strategies to determine whether the action was completed as desired without taking the next step to see if the outcomes of that strategy accomplished the overall purpose of moving the community closer to its desired vision. For example, No Child Left Behind was created with concerns about all students receiving a quality education. One strategy to advance the purpose of quality education was to implement at the state level a set of standardized tests, and additional actions were built around those test outcomes. Because many of the states focused directly on one strategic initiative (standardized testing) and the metrics embedded within it, too often the larger picture (quality education) was forgotten as curricula, school year start times, retention policies, and other initiatives were developed in response to the strategy (instead of focusing on the overall goal).

So [the commenter] is right – we need specific metrics tied to strategies. But we also need, to balance out the picture and keep us focused on why we selected those strategies in the first place, a constellation of measures tied directly to the vision statements themselves. In this fashion, we preserve both accountability and focus. 

How would you have answered that question?

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Engaging Dialogue about Community Indicators

We had a great session talking about community indicators at the Community Matters '10 Conference in Denver yesterday. Delia Clark facilitated a panel discussion with Rhonda Phillips, Shanna Ratner, and me as we talked about why community indicators were important and how to use them in creating sustainable community change. While we were talking, highlights of the panel discussion were captured on flipcharts as shown below:

The fun part was that we asked the group for their questions before we started speaking, and filled two flip chart pages with questions. After the short (15 minutes each) presentations we provided, we encouraged the session participants to form small groups and talk with each other about community indicators. They reported out their comments and questions, and we turned the session into open dialogue around indicators. At the end, the panelists each got five minutes to respond to any questions that remained unanswered from the opening list.

All in all, it was a good example of using a civic engagement process to discuss the importance of using community indicators in civic engagement processes.  Looking forward to using similar processes in other conference sessions. Special thanks to Delia Clark for the facilitation that made it all happen.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Visioning, Indicators, and Mariachi Bands

One of the breakout groups for SA2020
I was reflecting this week on the world of community indicators and how widely they're being used now. This past weekend I was in San Antonio to help launch their community visioning effort. A thousand people came together to talk about what challenges the community is facing, what is good about the community that needs to be preserved or maintained, and what the opportunities are for improvement or change in the next 10 years. From that vision, we will draw indicators, set targets, and move into community action. One of the more exciting aspects of the SA2020 process has been the integration of social and online media into the conversation, with live web-streaming of the launch event, over 2200 web-based comments during the live feed, and strong online comment captures, including on the website (, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

This month also provides the opportunity to celebrate World Statistics Day on 20/10/2010 (that's October 20, 2010, for those of us who put the month first in our dating system.)

Next week I get to join Rhonda Phillips and Shanna Ratner in a discussion of community indicators and measuring progress as part of the CommunityMatters '10 Conference in Denver, Colorado.

And we have just celebrated the 35th anniversary of my organization, JCCI (Jacksonville Community Council Inc.), along with the 25th anniversary of our Quality of Life Progress Report, 10th anniversary of JCCI Forward, and 5th anniversary of our Race Relations Progress Report.

This has been a week to think about how communities can transform through the action of good people working together on a shared concern, and how data, properly used, can bring those people together in a common understanding of the issues at hand.  And as our local government (along with many, many others) has struggled with questions of how to prioritize spending in an era of increasing demand and shrinking resources, it's sobering to reflect on where we might be without community indicators to help make the really hard decisions.

I hope to have good notes to share with you from the Community Matters conference (I'll let you know when I know the hashtag for the event -- CM10 is being used right now for the Chicago marathon, which I am not participating in this year.) And keep an eye out on the #SA2020 conversations -- the work is just beginning to create community-defined indicators.

And yes, the SA2020 launch event included both a marching band to welcome people into the facility and a youth mariachi band to serenade them once inside. Tremendous experiences, wonderful energy levels, and an astounding city.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Community Indicators Growing Up

This January we released our 25th annual edition of our signature community indicators project. We've launched an interactive indicators portal allowing us to update indicators as quickly as the data become available. We also celebrated the fifth anniversary of our annual community indicators report focused on racial and ethnic disparities.

At the same time, we got assistance from a talented graphics designer to transform our model for community change into something hopefully more understandable (and more friendly!) And we began using twitter as a way of communicating news and updates about community indicators, rather than blog posts (you can read the news feeds and the twitter feeds on the right-hand column of this blog.)

This past summer has felt like a summer of transformation in the community indicators world -- a sense that the movement is growing up. You can see what I'm talking about at the new website for the Community Indicators Consortium. You can follow along on the Facebook pages for The State of the USA project. You can see the exciting developments in graphic design, data sharing, mapping technologies, and all of the other amazing tools exploding onto the data-sharing scene.

So as we work with communities now on creating and sustaining community indicators projects today, the conversations are different than they used to be. The concern is not about whether communities need good data to make responsible decisions (of course they do.) The questions are not about where to find good, reliable data (we're choking in it!) The conversations don't even focus as much on how data can be displayed or used effectively (hundreds of excellent examples are a Google search away.)

We're circling around to conversations about community engagement, re-invigorating local democracy, and making public participation in community visioning both meaningful and effective.

We're having conversations about measuring the effectiveness of your community indicators project, and knowing whether or not your community indicators project is making a difference.

Those are, I think, important conversations to have. And with these thoughts, the focus of this blog will shift slightly -- from updating you on community indicators news, conferences, job openings, events, and report releases (you'll get more of that on the Community Indicators Consortium and on Twitter) to conversations and articles about the field.

And I'm interested in your input as well into what we need to be talking about as the movement proceeds.

Thanks for your time and attention and for being a loyal reader of this blog for the past three years!

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Call for Proposals: Integrating Community Indicators and Performance Measures

The Community Indicators Consortium (CIC), as part of a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is seeking proposals to write "Real Stories" of communities, organizations, and/or jurisdictions that have tried, successfully and not so successfully, to integrate community indicators and organizational performance measures.

The Real Stories project is intended to provide real life examples of the advantages and challenges to both community indicator and organizational performance measurement projects as a result of integrating or linking these two types of efforts. The published Real Stories, from 5-20 pages in length, will be used to advance the knowledge of community indicators-organizational performance measures integration and for training and other outreach material to community leaders as a way to improve or inform decision-making and create measurable, positive change in communities.

We are looking for proposals from individuals and groups who are directly involved in these efforts as well as individuals and organizations that work with community indicator and performance measurement projects. A stipend of $2,000 will be awarded for each Real Stories published.Three-to-five Real Stories will be selected for publication in 2010.

The deadline for submitting proposals for the 2010 Call for Real Stories is June 22, 2010. Notification of selected proposals and guidelines for development will be sent on July 15th. The deadline for the written first draft is September 15, 2010.

Visit the CIC web site for more information about the Real Stories project and the call for proposals. You can also download the Real Stories Proposal submittal form for more details, or contact the Project Steering committee at


Allen Lomax and Cheryle Broom
Integrating Community Indicators and Performance Measures Co-Chairs

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Indicators, Civic Engagement, and a Bright Future in Apucarana

This morning I shared JCCI's 35 years of experience with community engagement, studies, and indicators with a group of business, civic, and political leaders in Apucurana, Brazil. That's located in the state of Parana in the south of Brazil, and is part of the same north Parana region as Londrina.

They're using indicators and community-based studies and civic engagement in tangible ways in the region. I got to meet a number of people representing organizations doing some very good work.

One of the groups that shared their work was the Social Observatory of Maringa. In order for the country as a whole to develop properly, they argued, they really only needed two things: resources, and the correct application of those resources. Unfortunately, according to their data, 32 percent of taxes collected in Brazil are lost to corruption. The people of Maringa organized and took action. Their Social Observatory goes carefully through the local government budget and finances, looking for cost reductions in what is spent, ensuring the money is spent for the public good, and checking to make sure the government received what it paid for. They have saved millions by ensuring that the costs for goods and services paid by the government are in line with the local market, that purchases are made only for what is really needed, and that what is delivered meets contract specifications. In one instance, they made sure every school had a scale they could use to measure the amounts of goods purchased, since some vendors had been significantly shorting the school system. Just by being there, they've increased the sense of risk for would-be defrauders of the government. And by catching problems up front, they save real money, since the government's approach to catching fraud seldom results in full recovery even if there's a conviction. The key to the program is 3,000 volunteer hours a year to create real transparency in government. Pretty amazing stuff.

CODEM Maringa is another civic organization focused on local development. They want to connect government and the community together to work for the common good. They use indicators to measure progress and studies to find solutions to economic development. Their challenge, like many others, is how you define "community" -- participation in these efforts appears restricted to the usual community suspects, and adding new voices to the table is difficult.

We heard from a couple of others, including the Forum Desenvolve Londrina (who intentionally patterned themselves after JCCI seven years ago and is making great progress), and then I shared some case studies around the JCCI Model for Community Improvement.

By the time we headed out for the local churrascaria, we had seen a number of examples that showed us:

1. The future of a community is too important to let happen by chance or at the whims of the few. Community involvement is critical to both design and create/implement your desired future.
2. Community indicators are critical tools for measuring progress, creating shared community priorities, engaging institutions in solutions, and evaluating the results of changes made.
3. Civic-minded people are the same the world over, no matter what language they speak.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Community Indicators in Londrina, Brazil

I'm spending thisweek in Londrina, Brazil as a follow-up to earlier conversations and visits about effective community indicators. When I return, I'll share something of the dialogue and exciting work happening in this area.

What's really interesting to me is the continued validation of the efficacy of community indicator systems in created desired community change. There's something about the process that transcends culture and geography (though some of the discussions we've had about different perspectives on community governance and civic engagement in different countries show that location/culture/history does matter in the design/implementation of the indicators system and the model of change built around it.)

As the GAO continues its efforts to document the state of indicators systems in the United States and to support the development of a Key National Indicators system, this message of the universal importance of broadly-available community-informed public data systems for decision-making and action is an important one to recognize.

Anyway, those are the kinds of things I'm thinking about right now. A full report comes later.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

NAPC Conference, Day One: CI-PM Integration

I'm at the NAPC Conference in Alexandria, Virginia. Our opening pre-conference session features Allen Lomax from the Community Indicators Consortium talking about their project to integrate community indicators and government performance measures. I'll be participating with a NAPC Forward project to increase the use of social media among community planning agencies, so you'll see more if you follow @N_A_P_C on Twitter (you can follow me, too, at @BenWarner.) You'll see more about the conference also on the NAPC blog and the NAPC YouTube channel.

Allen's presentation is now online at -- excellent examples of communities  trying to engage the community and government around data and the policy implications of using good, shared information. The Community Indicators Consortium is about to put out a call for more Real Stories -- case studies of integration efforts, successful or not -- so watch for that.

The conversation got really interesting, as multiple folk shared their initiatives in their local communities -- the topic appeared to strongly resonate with NAPC members who have been trying to bring community indicators together with performance measures and have important lessons to share. This is a critical connection for this conversation, and I hope more NAPC members get involved in helping this project along.

In other news, you can follow live tweeting of the conference through the #NAPC10 hashtag.


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Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I'm having some fun playing with, a tool that pulls state data sets (many, but not all, from and allows you to throw data sets together to find interesting information and stories.

Take births divided by population and you get a list of the Most Reproductive States (not surprisingly, Utah leads the pack, but Texas and Alaska are right on their heels.) Select Alcohol consumption/Binge Drinkers and multiply that by the Firearm death rate per 100,000 and you have the Boozin' & Shootin' Index -- D.C. edges out Nevada and Alaska (Utah's way at the bottom for this one!)

You can get your results in a map or a table, and you can suggest additional data sets you think might be useful. 

Have some fun with the site, and think about how your own community indicators project might benefit from this kind of tool.

Hat tip: DataPoints blog via @Kidsdata

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Citizen DAN Proposal Intrigues Me

There's an interesting proposal up for the Knight News Challenge awards this year. The proposal is for something called "Citizen DAN", with DAN standing for Public Data Appliance and Network.

You can read the proposal here, which includes external links for more information.

Here's a short description of the project:

Citizen DAN is an open source framework to leverage relevant local data for citizen journalists. It is a:

■Appliance for filtering and analyzing data specific to local community indicators

■Means to visualize local data over time or by neighborhood

■Meeting place for the public to upload and share local data and information

■Web data portal that can be individually tailored by any local community

■Node in a global network of communities across which to compare indicators of community well-being.

Good decisions and good journalism require good information. Starting with pre-loaded government data, Citizen DAN provides any citizen the framework to learn and compare local statistics and data with other similar communities. This helps to promote the grist for citizen journalism; it is also a vehicle for discovery and learning across the community.

Citizen DAN comes pre-packaged with all necessary deployment components and documentation, including local data from government sources. It includes facilities for direct upload of additional local data in formats from spreadsheets to standard databases. Many standard converters are included with the basic package.

Citizen DAN may be implemented by local governments or by community advocacy groups. When deployed, using its clear documentation, sponsors may choose whether or what portions of local data are exposed to the broader Citizen DAN network. Data exposed on the network is automatically available to any other network community for comparison and analysis purposes.

This data appliance and network (DAN) is multi-lingual. It will be tested in three cities in Canada and the US, showing its multi-lingual capabilities in English, Spanish and French.

What has me most excited is not just the project itself, but the growth in open-source solutions to data presentation/management for community indicators programs. These should lower the barriers to entry for many communities to establish/maintain a useful indicators set, and help spur increased innovation in both what we measure and how we use what we measure.

As more of these solutions move from the drawing board through testing and implementation, we'll share them here. In the meantime, I applaud the many folks out there doing good work to make my job both easier and more effective.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Community Indicator Projects and Role Challenges

I had the privilege yesterday of meeting with the people behind the Arizona Indicators Project that we've talked about before. One of the topics that came up in conversation was the difficulty in managing the role relationships among being a trusted data provider, a neutral convener, and an effective advocate for change.

I've been thinking about the topic since I arrived back in Jacksonville (in the remaining moments before I head up to Beaufort, South Carolina to talk to them about their indicators work!) Let me lay out the issues and how we've navigated them, mostly successfully, in Jacksonville. Then I'd love to hear your comments about different models to manage these potential role conflicts.

First of all, the role of the trusted data provider is paramount (in my opinion) to having a successful community indicators project. People need to have confidence in the information you're providing. If they don't trust the data, or think you're manipulating it in some way to push a particular agenda, you're sunk -- your integrity has to be central to how you're perceived if your data are going to be used.

The second role, that of a neutral convener, stems from our experience in Jacksonville. We existed to bring the community together around key local issues before we began publishing community indicators reports, and so my perception of the functions of an organization are colored by that history and experience. That being said, we don't publish indicators reports just because we like looking at numbers. We do so with an intent to influence decision-making in a positive fashion, to pull people and institutions into doing better things and doing things better because they have good data to inform them. Being the trusted data source creates a good fit with being the trusted convener around the issues identified by the data. This convening function or role is critical to addressing problems that persist despite the best efforts of the current systems.

The indicators report also connects issues across traditional boundaries. A good report highlights the interrelationships among different issue areas or sectors -- how education affects economic development, and how that affects environmental sustainability, and how that affects health, etc. Because we're talking about community indicators with a broad sweep across multiple areas, the indicators organization is often well suited to bring multiple partners and perspectives together to identify solutions to the problems. And because the data are trusted, the organization is in a good position to be trusted to facilitate an even-handed, honest discussion. 

The third role, that of being an effective advocate for change, creates difficulties. We do indicators because we want change -- and we know whether or not the change is happening, because that's what we're measuring. Here's where the role conflicts and different organizational models show up. Organizations can passively wait for someone else to do good things to make things happen and improve the indicators -- to the extreme, this is a publish-and-wait approach. These projects tend to spend a lot of time battling for relevancy. On the other extreme, organizations can actively push a change agenda. These organizations have to fight the perception that they are no longer neutral, and fight to maintain perceived integrity behind their data.

Clearly, the model for community improvement centered around the indicators project has to be involved enough to galvanize action for change, yet removed enough to remain a neutral convener and a trusted, independent data source. This turns out to be challenging, but by no means impossible -- what is needed is a level of intentionality and foresight in the approach to community change. The model for community change that your organization develops has to, again in my opinion, wrestle through these issues and identify how the organization is going to address each of these important functions.

In Jacksonville, we've been successful in maintaining both relevance and trust through leveraging the neutral convener role to engage citizens as advocates for change. We give them the information to be better involved in community improvement, and allow them to take the descriptive indicator information and articulate their own prescriptions for improvement. We've seen widespread community debates on the proper course of action around an issue centered on the indicators, where each side in a political debate use our same report to justify their preferred course of action.

And that, I think, is as it should be -- we want to create a community culture of data-informed decision-making processes, and when the debates are data-rich and thoughtful, we're seeing democracy at its best.

What are your thoughts?

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's Census Time!

The 2010 Census is upon us, and many of us are involved in encouraging people to fill out their Census forms and send them back. At a recent Complete Count Committee meeting here in Jacksonville, a Census worker suggested that participation in the census was a more important civic engagement exercise than voting.

We had a great conversation last year at the National Association of Planning Councils' conference on Census issues, and I'd suggest you look at those speaker presentations for some interesting information. I know that we in the indicators world tend to use census information a lot, and the changes with the ACS sample size and lack of a long form survey pose challenges to data use.

At the same time, a new study has come out challenging the accuracy of the IPUMS data, especially as it relates to people over age 65. When you think about the sheer number of policy decisions that are based on Census information, you quickly see the critical need to get it right in not just the count but in the ways the numbers are statistically modified to protect privacy.

So let me ask: How are you using Census data? ACS data? How are you involved in encouraging people to fill out their Census information? And if you had a wish list, what would you do to improve the census information-gathering and reporting processes?

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

JCCI Releases 25th Annual Quality of Life Progress Report

The Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI) releases its Silver Anniversary edition of the Quality of Life Progress Report. The 2009 report reflects a complete redesign of the 25-year-old report on trends in the quality of life in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, along with new interactive web-based mapping technology to provide state-wide comparisons of much of the data.

The report assesses the quality of life in Jacksonville through more than one hundred individual indicators that detail trends in nine sections of the community: Achieving Educational Excellence; Growing a Vibrant Economy; Preserving the Natural Environment; Promoting Social Wellbeing & Harmony; Enjoying Arts, Culture & Recreation; Sustaining a Healthy Community; Maintaining a Responsive Government; Moving Around Efficiently; and Keeping the Community Safe.

“For 25 years the JCCI Quality of Life Progress Report has provided vital data about where we are, where we’ve been and where we need to be,” says Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton in the report: “This Silver Anniversary edition continues to guide us as a community.”

The 18-page Summary Report being released Tuesday provides a succinct assessment of our quality of life using two Key Indicators and up to 5 supporting indicators per section. A companion online Reference Document provides greater detail as well as additional indicators.

The third piece being unveiled at the release is JCCI’s Community Snapshot, a new online data display and mapping technology. “I can’t overstate the technological leap we have made with this upgrade,” said JCCI President Chris Arab. “It literally makes data come alive.” With Community Snapshot, JCCI will update indicators as soon as new data is provided. Community policy and resource decision makers will be able to assess progress and make their decisions with the latest information possible.

Newly installed Regional Chamber of Commerce Chair Kelly Madden led the 21-person review committee that rebuilt this year’s report and prioritized the indicators for each section. “We took our work seriously“, said Madden, understanding they were creating a new framework for conveying the story of Jacksonville’s quality of life. Ms. Madden will present the report to Mayor Peyton and the citizens of Jacksonville. Mayor Peyton will also speak at the event.

JCCI’s Quality of Life Report is the longest continuously running community indicators report in the nation. Created in 1985 by community volunteers, it is an internationally recognized standard. JCCI will recognize those 1985 pioneers during this Silver Anniversary event.

The data for the Quality of Life Progress Report is obtained from the records and documents of public and private organizations. An annual opinion survey provides the remaining data.

Read more in this story from The Florida Times-Union.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seattle Information Technology Indicators Project

Since this blog tends to attract people who are both technologically savvy (at least savvy enough to read a blog!) and interested in community indicators, I thought you might want to read about this new effort, the Seattle Information Technology Indicators Project.

The Seattle IT department conducted city-wide surveys and focus groups in order to understand how well they're doing in creating a "technologically healthy community." This link provides access to their goals, indicators, and reports they've created to answer the question.

I was leading a training session this morning in my community about our new web-based indicators tool and got into an interesting discussion about future indicator sets -- are we thinking now about the things we will need to measure to understand our community in the face of constant, exponential change in so many aspects of society? I don't have an answer to that question yet -- I'll be mulling it over and would love your inputs -- but what they're doing in Seattle is likely an important step in rethinking community visions and the indicators we need to be measuring.

Hat tip: Jonl via twitter

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Friday, January 8, 2010

JCCI Releases 5th Annual Race Relations Progress Report

The Jacksonville Community Council Inc (JCCI) released its 2009 Race Relations Progress Report during the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfast on January 8th at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. This is the fifth edition of the annual report that examines progress in addressing racial disparities and improving race relations in Jacksonville.

The 2009 report examines perceptions about race gained by annual survey and hard data that portray the realities of race and racial disparities across the Jacksonville community. Created as the result of JCCI’s 2002 citizen-led study, Beyond the Talk: Improving Race Relations (PDF), the progress report provides historical data spanning as much as 25 years across six areas: Education; Employment and Income; Housing and Neighborhoods; Health; Justice and the Legal System; and Civic Engagement and the Political System.

Jennifer Chapman of Fidelity Investments and Broderick Green of the Chamber’s Cornerstone Regional Development Partnership led the team that reviewed this year’s report and presented their findings at Friday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfast. “Eliminating racial disparities in our community is not only a moral imperative – it’s an economic one,” Chapman and Green stated. Among highlights in the 2009 report is the widening black-white gap in the perception of whether racism is a problem in Jacksonville. This hinders the community’s ability to come together to take action and solve the real problems that exist, according to the JCCI report.

The report reflects mixed signals in the area of education, where graduation rates improved but racial disparities widened. Of great concern were growing racial disparities in the areas of employment and income, fueled by the recession, where black minority populations were hit especially hard. Positive indicators included perceptions of neighborhood safety, heart disease death rates, declining homicide rates, voter turnout, and black felony inmate admissions, although significant racial disparities in several of these areas.

Copies of the report were distributed at the MLK Breakfast and are available in hard copy from the JCCI offices or online at For more information contact JCCI at 904-396-3052.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Londrina, Brazil and Using Community Indicators for Transformation

Tuesday this week I met with representatives of the Fórum Desenvolve Londrina (roughly the Londrina, Brazil Development Forum). Londrina is a city of about a half-million people in the state of Paraná, Brazil.We had gone down to Paraná a few years ago to help them launch a community indicators project, and they had last come up to Jacksonville to see us in 2006.

They're doing some impressive work. Their Manual de Indicadores de Desenvolvimento Londrina 2008 (PDF) begins with a vision:

“Londrina 2034: uma comunidade ativa e articulada, construindo uma cidade humana, segura e saudável, tecnologicamente avançada, integrada com a região Norte do Paraná e globalmente conectada, com uma economia diversificada e dinâmica promovendo o equilíbrio social, cultural e ambiental.”

(Londrina 2034: an active, connected community, building a humane, safe, healthy, and technologically advanced city, integrated with the entire North Paraná region and connected globally, with a diverse and dynamic economy promoting a social, cultural and environmental balance.)

They use their indicators report to:

– Fomentar as ações comunitárias;
– Estimular a comunidade para melhoria da qualidade de vida;
– Facilitar o direcionamento de atitudes para implantação de projetos;
– Detalhar melhor a situação por área especifica;
– Intensificar a comunicação da comunidade.

  • Encourage community action;
  • Stimulate the community to improve the quality of life;
  • Facilitate change in attitudes towards project implementation;
  • Provide details of the current situation in specific areas of the community; and
  • Enhance community communication.
Their indicators reports are accompanied by annual studies. Last year's study was on providing opportunities for all in business development, and a task force is currently working on implementing the principal ten recommendations from that study. The new study is on human mobility -- looking at transportation systems from a broad perspective, including roadways and public transit but also including sidewalks and pedestrian traffic in an overall examination of how people get around in their community.

They've been working hard to align the business, government, and university sectors of their community to create cooperative partnerships and a shared community agenda. They're doing some pretty amazing work, and demonstrating the universality of a community change model structured around community indicators.

If you speak Portuguese, take a look at the work they're doing. Ary Sudan told me that the model is spreading to other cities across Brazil as the country moves through a remarkable transformation into a global power. If you don't speak Portuguese, now would be a good time to learn.

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Richmond, Indiana Using Community Indicators for Community Discussion

Check out this report from the Palladium-Item (which is one of the odder names for a local newspaper I've ever seen) about the RICHMOND INDICATORS: A Community and Economic Benchmark Report (PDF). They're hosting a televised program with interactive internet chat to discuss the implications of the indicators report for competition, struggle, and opportunity in economic development.

The report covers demographics and economic indicators, plus a social capital index, commute sheds, and an innovation index. It's an interesting report out of eastern Indiana and worth a look at what they're doing and how they're trying to engage the public around the report.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Portraits of Peel

I first met Srimanta Mahonty some years ago at a CIC Conference and was impressed by the work he'd been doing. He was analyzing a set of quality-of-life factors by population group within Peel, Ontario, Canada, and was demonstrating the inequities and resilience of a range of immigrant populations. His thinking helped me in the growth and development of our own Race Relations Progress Report.

His work has continued. He just sent out this note on his new, updated website:

The Portraits of Peel website provides three types of information:

Please forward this information to your networks as appropriate.

Thank you.


Srimanta Mohanty, Ph.D.
Director of Research & Administration
The Social Planning Council of Peel

Take a moment and check it out!

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