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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Measuring Social Progress

In November 2006, PEKEA (Political and Ethical Knowledge on Economic Activities) held a conference in Rennes, France to address local indicators of social progress. During the conference sessions, speakers emphasized the need to look at the progress of a community in terms of the social conditions of its people, and not just the economic conditions of its industry.

If you're looking to measure the social condition of your community, a great deal of information is available to help. The list of possible resources is immense, so let's start with the global first and then start to transition to national-level information. Future posts will explore state, regional, and community-level social indicators projects. Feel free to respond with your own suggestions of projects as well.

For data resources, a good starting place is the United Nations' Social Indicators web page. Indicators on that site are provided on the following areas:
- Child-bearing
- Child and elderly populations
- Contraceptive use
- Education
- Health
- Housing
- Human settlements
- Income and economic activity
- Literacy
- Population
- Unemployment
- Water supply and sanitation

Their methodology and technical background on the development of social indicators are available in their Handbook on Social Indicators and Towards a System of Social and Demographic Statistics.

I've already mentioned OECD's Social Indicators site in an earlier entry. But I didn't mention the social indicators at the World Bank site.

Canada has their own Social Indicators site that's worth a look even if you don't live in Canada. Pay attention to their Social Indicators Links for other interesting information.

If you want to see how to make a difference with social indicators, check out the National Association of Planning Councils' Leading Social Indicators report. In it, the indicators are paired with success stories of communities who used the data to make a measurable difference in addressing social needs.


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