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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, July 17, 2008

American Human Development Project

The American Human Development Project is an interesting data resource and attempt to create a national indicator set to "stimulate fact-based public debate about and political attention to human development issues in the United States and to empower people to hold elected officials accountable for progress on issues we all care about: health, education, and income."

The site includes a report, The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008-2009; a set of interactive maps that let you select indicators like SAT scores, army recruits, or obesity rates; and the most intriguing (and awfully-named) section, the Well-O-Meter.

The Well-O-Meter starts off with a series of questions about yourself. Some of them are odd -- after asking my gender, it also asked if I were a woman who received annual gynecological checkups AND if I were a man over 40 who had annual checkups. Income and education were asked in two separate ways. Overall, it was an interesting set of questions -- made as interesting but what wasn't asked as by what was. At the end, it gives you a score, and then plots your score against some comparatives. So while race/ethnicity and region of the country are factors the Well-O-Meter think are significant for health differences, it asks about neither for you personally.

It does ask about family characteristics, health events, and life expectancy -- which is quite interesting, since the purpose of the site otherwise seems to be arguing for public policy debates about shared community characteristics.

I thought you might enjoy playing with the site and seeing what information it has on your community. The attempt to link you personally with the larger community/national picture is an intriguing concept, though I suspect it would have been more useful to place the individual answers within the geographical context that the site is mapping already.

What are your reactions to the site?

(Hat tip: Media General News Service -- read the article!)


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