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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Best Whatever Cities by Money Magazine

You've seen the lists -- Top 25 Hottest Cities. Top 25 Cities for Singles. Top 25 Coolest Cities. Top 25 Cities to Live. Top 25 Friendliest Cities. Each of them develops some set of indicators as criteria, adds a trendy label, and then ranks a bunch of cities according to the desired index. It's gotten to the point where some magazines look like they have to have a Top 25 Cities list in every issue in order to meet their publication deadlines.

I was amused to see at a new kind of resource. It's their Best Places to Live city comparison tool. Add your city (or comparison cities) to a list they have generated, and compare the indicators you want to -- in areas such as financial, education, housing, quality of life, leisure & culture, weather, health, and "meet the neighbors" (which contains some demographic data like age and educational attainment and also stuff like the average amount spent on vacations.)

With this tool, you can mix and match your own indicators to create your own "Best Cities" criteria. You can create a "Best Highbrow Cities" list by combining education attainment, educational opportunities, libraries, and museums. Or Most Fit. Or Most Affordable. Or Safest. Or any of these other listings (which already exist out there in some format, I'm sure, but which you can create on your own.)

It's an interesting tool. Can you create a constellation of indicators that tells an interesting story? Would you like to share your own "Best Cities" ranking criteria?


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