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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Role of Data Intermediaries in Policy

I was reading an interesting blog article on "using research for policy and practice." The blog, which is associated with the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), begins with this question:

Are you doing enough to learn from research? A common theme from several recent events and meetings I’ve attended is research and using evidence in policy.

The author then makes the case that lots and lots of research is being done, and that information exists which should be informing public policy and practice. However, too often decisions are made without the benefit of that research.

He continues the discussion this way:

[T]here’s also an important role for intermediary bodies – like think tanks, professional bodies, consultants and of course the IDeA – whose job it is to keep on top of current thinking and feed it either directly to authorities or indirectly through new policy. The trick here is knowing which intermediaries to go to for which information. There’s also a role for networks, such as this one, where people can keep each other informed of the best places for information.

The challenge in linking data intermediaries (who gather together the research and data into some sort of comprehensible format) with policy makers (who don't generally have a lot of time that they've made available to read and digest the information themselves) is perhaps a critical one if we expect good policy. Likewise, the role of data intermediaries in gathering the information and making it available and accessible to the public so that people can be engaged and informed about community issues is similarly critical in the functioning of democratic societies, which require an engaged citizenry to ensure policy-making accountability.

So how do we who create community indicator reports and bring together the data do a better job in workinig with decision makers and the public in informing policy and practice? And how do we who do this work engage better in networks and communities of practice to help each other become more effective in this work?


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