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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, June 14, 2007

NationMaster and StateMaster

Here's a fun online data resource/tool to explore. NationMaster pulls together statistical information from OECD, the CIA Factbook, and the UN in an easy-to-use, well-organized, and searchable database of information. StateMaster does that same thing with information from the census, NCES, and FBI. In both sites, you can search statistics by subject area or by nation/state.

Here's how you might you it. let's say I'm interested in an indicator on infant mortality. From StateMaster's front page, I select the "Health" category under "Facts & Statistics", then reluctantly scroll past interesting data options from Alligator Attacks to STDs to select "More health statistics", which loads a full Health menu on the page. I then select "Infant Death Rate" and end up with a bar chart of the states in ranked order, a definition of the data displayed (with year), and a link to the source of the data (in this case,

Clicking through the data link, I have further information on the subject, and another new data resource. I also have the option (back on the StateMaster Infant Mortality page) to get a health profile of a specific state, or to click through on NationMaster to see what information is available on the subject.

The infant mortality rate listed for Florida is 7.5 (2002), which is interesting (though the data is a little old -- a "huge data update" is promised soon.) If I check Florida's health profile, though, I get lots of interesting data options, with definitions and sources -- my network of information possibilities keeps growing!

I turn back to infant mortality, though, and follow the link to the NationMaster Infant Mortality page. Florida's rate falls between Montserrat and Cyprus, it turns out. I can check infant mortality by gender among countries, which is also interesting.

Explore these two sites and let me know how useful they are to you. They aren't probably the definitive indicator data source, but they could be an interesting starting point for looking at possible indicators and where to find the data.


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