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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

EurLife Quality of Life Indicators Database Updated

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions sent out a news release that caught my eye.

EurLife database of quality of life indicators: The database, which deals with the objective living conditions and subjective well-being of European citizens, has been updated. New indicators have been added, as well as data for more recent years. National coverage has been expanded to include the 27 EU Member States and Turkey. The database will be updated again in 2008 with results from the second European Quality of Life Survey.

So I went and checked out the information provided in their database. I found it surprisingly useful. In the health domain, for example, I looked up infant mortality. I found the rates in tabular format, 1990-2005, for each country in Europe plus an EU-15 and EU-25 rate. Some of the data points were unavailable, but the chart was sufficiently complete to see the incredible progress Turkey, Romania, and Hungary have made. (The descriptor of the measure was perhaps a little blunt -- yes, you are measuring dead babies, but still ....)

The links to the data sources were also helpful. There's a nice selection of data -- besides the Health element, there's Employment, Income Deprivation, Education, Family, Social Participation, Housing, Environment, Transport, Safety, Leisure, and Life Satisfaction. The last indicator is "Happiness", which is an interesting one to include with some of the other, more concrete measures.

The Environment indicators took me by surprise. This is about your living environment, the built environment, and only a little about the natural environment -- not whether the natural ecosystems are necessarily healthy, but whether you experience pollution or complain about the quality of the drinking water or complain about the lack of greenspace. The other environment indicators measure things like the distance to a cash machine, cinema, supermarket, nursery, or primary school, as well as the state of repair of the buildings near you.

The Social Participation indicators were a nice mix of involvement and social capital, including voting, participation in a series of activities, organizational membership, and involvement with neighbors. The leisure measures were also fun.

So take a look at the data -- even if you're not measuring indicators in Europe, you may find the data interesting for comparative purposes or to spark ideas about how to better measure the quality of life in your own community.


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