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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Child Abuse and Data Transparency

A new report by First Star and the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego's School of Law calls for better data standards and more openness in reporting child abuse and child deaths in the United States.

The report, State Secrecy and Child Deaths in the U.S. (PDF), says that "The majority of U.S. states fail to release adequate information about fatal and life-threatening child abuse cases, adhering to misguided and secretive policies that place confidentiality above the welfare of children and prevent public scrutiny that would lead to systemic reforms ..."

USA Today reports that what the groups are after is "maximum transparency."

The report caught my eye, and not just for the rankings of all 50 states in compliance with data reporting standards. It reminded me that a key role we play in compiling and disseminating community indicators reports is advocating for better and more open data reporting.

I know we get involved in this work because we want to change the community, and understand that the democracy of data creates shared knowledge, better decisions, and stronger actions. But we're also in the field to make sure that good data is available for everyone, and sometimes we fall short in ensuring that potential data providers understand the importance of sharing their information with the larger community.

What has been your experience in encouraging better data? How do you measure your efforts in improving the information available for your community, above and beyond reporting the information already available?


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