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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Two Reports Released by NNIP

Here's a head's-up from Tom Kingsley on the NNIP Listserve:

Two reports have recently been released describing innovative local uses of parcel level data in community development. Most of the examples were done by partners in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP). The first is the final report on the five-city project NNIP did for the Brookings Urban Markets Initiative several years ago. The second came out of a project done jointly by PolicyLink and the Urban Institute for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (the final work under that project is a guide on using parcel level data being prepared by Kathy Pettit – expected to be released in September).

Data and Decisions: Parcel Level Information Changing the Way Business Gets Done, by G. Thomas Kingsley and Kathryn L.S. Pettit. (Brookings Institution, July 2008).

The accelerated development of electronic land information systems in our cities creates opportunities for important improvements in land management and community development. However, “decision support tools” are needed to assure that the new data will be brought to bear on real decision making effectively. These tools transform raw data into accessible information displays designed to inform specific actions by private, nonprofit and government actors, and may range from simple web tables to more complex analytic processes. This paper reviews early experiences in developing such tools in five cities in 2004/05 (Baltimore, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Providence, and Washington DC) and concludes that their future holds promise. The choice of tools will depend on local market conditions, but in all areas, they can help in: (1) assessing trends and need for intervention; (2) deciding on the appropriate interventions for individual properties; and (3) monitoring and coordinating programs. Ideas are offered as to how local leaders can create an environment conducive to these potentials and avoid risks that could hinder them.

Transforming Community Development with Land Information Systems, by Sarah Treuhaft and G. Thomas Kingsley. (Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2008).

Land information systems and internet-based databases have the power to transform community development, making it possible to harness technology to revitalize urban areas and create affordable housing where it is most needed, according to a new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. "There is vast potential in the use of technology in community development," said Rosalind Greenstein, senior fellow and chair of the Department of Economic and Community Development at the Lincoln Institute. "Using geographic information systems and Web services truly facilitates the work of planning, developing, and nurturing vibrant neighborhoods that meet the needs of today's residents." The report includes a synopsis of the evolution of parcel data systems and recent advanced applications, as well as five case studies from Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., that illustrate the use of new technology in facilitating revitalization, improving vacant lots, building on affordable housing initiatives, heading off foreclosures, or integrating neighborhood efforts into a larger regional framework.

Tom Kingsley
The Urban Institute
2100 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20037


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