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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, August 27, 2008

Call for Papers: International Review of Qualitative Research

IRQR encourages the use of critical, experimental and traditional forms of qualitative inquiry in the interests of social justice. We seek works thatare both academically sound and partisan, works that offer knowledge-based radical critiques of social settings and institutions while promoting human dignity, human rights, and just societies around the globe.

Submissions to the journal are judged by the effective use of critical qualitative research methodologies and practices for understanding and advocacy in policy arenas, as well as clarity of writing and willingness to experiment with new and traditional forms of presentation.

International Review of Qualitative Research
Sponsored by International Center for Qualitative Inquiry
Norman K. Denzin, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Quarterly in May, August, November and February
512 pp.

For more information, including submission guidelines, please visit the link below:

Read more ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Call for Proposals: CCN Conference

I received this invitation, and must admit I don't know the organization. They don't appear to have any members in the U.S., which may be one reason I'm not familiar with them. If anyone has more information, please let me know. I thought you might be interested in knowing more about this, however.

The Consumer Citizenship Network takes this opportunity to invite you to contribute to the sixth Consumer Citizenship Network international conference, entitled: “Making a Difference--Putting consumer citizenship into action” to be held 23-24 March 2009 at the Technical University of Berlin in Germany.

The growing imbalances of social, economic and ecological systems are increasingly visible as prices for food and energy rise around the globe, the availability of many resources declines and the devastating effects of climate change touch the lives of rich and poor alike. The sixth international conference of the Consumer Citizenship Network will investigate the proactive role of the consumer in the transition to more sustainable human development around the world.Educators, researchers and professionals are invited to submit papers related to the themes mentioned below.

Submission date for proposals (abstracts) of 250 words for a presentation, a paper, a poster, a symposium or an opinion article for the upcoming CCN conference is 1st December 2008 to the CCN Core Unit

Presentations should address one or more of the following themes:

Track 1: Understanding Consumer Citizenship Behaviour- What perspectives can we employ to investigate the global consumer’s decision making process?- Which factors hinder a broader diffusion of consumer citizenship behaviour?- What incentives and enabling systems can help consumers to consume socially responsible?- Which methods can help to evaluate and illustrate the social and ecological consequences of consumer behaviour?

Track 2: Education for Consumer Citizenship a)Education at schools and Universities b)General Consumer Education- Which approaches to consumer citizenship education are most effective?- What challenges and opportunities exist when teaching about long term global goals for sustainable consumption?- How can education lead to choosing sustainable lifestyles?- How can education stimulate creativity for inventing sustainable solutions?- What kind of research is necessary for the development of consumer citizenship education and education for sustainable consumption?- What is the relationship between consumer citizenship education and education for sustainable consumption?

Track 3: Co-operating for Consumer Citizenship- How can co-operation for consumer citizenship be improvedo between producers and consumers,o between authorities and citizens,o between schools and communities,o between researchers and activists,- What are exemplary community-based initiatives for responsible consumption (urban or rural)?

Especially welcomed are contributions, which - raise critical issues like economic growth or consumer sufficiency, - go beyond the cognitively oriented mainstream of consumer citizenship education and research, - focus not only on Europe and OECD-countries but also on developing countries and ‘one world’ issues, - reflect the state of the art of consumer behaviour (e.g. in marketing or consumer psychology).

Practical information concerning the conference can be found in the conference invitation attached or on the CCN website: .

If you need additional information, kindly contact us at the CCN Core Unit. ccn@hihm.noWe apologize for cross sendings.

Yours sincerely,
Associate Professor Victoria W. Thoresen
The Consumer Citizenship Network, Project Manager
Hedmark University College
Postboks 4010 Bedriftssenteret
2306 Hamar, Norway

The Consumer Citizenship Network (CCN) ( ) is an interdisciplinary network of educators, researchers and civil society organizations, (including UNESCO, UNEP and Consumers International) who recognize the pressing need for constructive action by individuals in order to achieve sustainable consumption and global solidarity. The Consumer Citizenship Network has, since 2003, developed interdisciplinary approaches to central issues dealing with the balance between material and non-material well-being and with how one can translate ethical values into everyday practice through conscientious participation in the market. CCN also brings together expertise in the fields of citizenship-, environmental- and consumer education to further develop research and good practice for teaching and accessing consumer citizenship education. The Network consists of 133 institutions in 37 countries.The project targets lecturers, researchers and teacher trainers in higher education; students, professionals working with children and young people, public authorities, and associations dealing with citizenship training, sustainable development and consumer issues... By focusing on social responsibility, the CCN addresses the growing international concern for implementation of norms and behaviour which support sustainable development and cooperation.

Read more ...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Historical Data As Predictor

Good morning! The worst of Fay appears to be past us, and once again external circumstances compelled me to think about ... community indicators.

Jacksonville, Florida (where I live) hasn't been hit directly by a hurricane since 1964. The Chamber of Commerce has a series of nifty powerpoint slides showing the landfalls of every hurricane since 1965 along the Eastern seaboard, and they go everywhere -- except Jacksonville. (I'm sure my friends at the Chamber breathed a sigh of relief that Fay never intensified to hurricane status as it sat off of St. Augustine for quite some time.)

So what does this have to do with community indicators?

As I prepared water, candles, flashlights, and other emergency supplies in preparation for landfall, it occurred to me that none of the charts and trend graphs supplied by the Chamber really mattered at this moment. There was going to be a storm, or there wasn't; power was going to go out (and it did), or it wouldn't; the neighbor's tree was going to fall on my house, or it would stay standing. (As of this moment, it's still up; last windstorm a branch knocked a hole in my shed, so the worry went somewhere beyond academic.)

Trend lines and historical data gave me little comfort in my preparations. Trend lines in my community indicators report say very little about the individual circumstances of someone facing unemployment, getting mugged, a teen girl having a baby. They may tell me something about how to plan for the aggregate, but very little about the personal. (Much in the way life insurance actuaries can't tell me when I'm going to die, just the age at which people-like-me tend to shuffle off this mortal coil.)

I suspect it's this disconnect between community trends and personal impact that makes it difficult to get people excited about indicators projects. (OK, let's be honest -- it's probably just one of the things that keeps Hollywood from making movies about my life and work.) The challenge we have, as community indicators practioners, is to figure out how to bridge that gap to make the information we share both compelling and personally meaningful. Any ideas on how to do that?

Read more ...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Job Posting: NH Health Statistics Analyst

From NNIP:

Now Open: Senior Data Analyst Position in Health Statistics in NH

Please distribute!
NH is hiring a Senior Data Analyst in its Health Statistics Section in the Division of Public Health Services. Applications from far and wide are welcome!
Job announcement is at:

The application can be found at:

Please feel free to circulate.
Karla R. Armenti, ScD.
Chief Health Statistics & Data Management Division of Public Health Services NH Department of Health and Human Services
29 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301
Phone (603) 271-8425
Fax (603) 271- 7623

Read more ...

Job Posting: NeighborWorks America Senior Analyst

From NNIP:

Job Description

TITLE: Senior Planning, and Evaluation Analyst
Division: Corporate Planning, Performance, and Strategy (CPPS)
LOCATION: Washington DC


Support Corporate strategies and performance by supporting the Director in strategic planning, corporate performance measurement, scorecard development and implementation, program evaluation and the improvement of coordination and integration of process and data systems across the functional divisions of the organization. Ensure the success of the Corporation’s commitments by assisting in the development of measures for success for special projects, grants and other key strategic programs.


Business owner within CPPS for the day to day management of the NFMC program evaluation consultant team. This requires a strong knowledge and background in quantitative public policy research, the ability to communicate clearly and concisely to venders and senior management. Develop any required summaries and or presentations as may be needed.
Assist in designing and implementing corporate performance measurement tools and systems, conducting analyses for management and key external stakeholders (Board, OMB, Congress).
Coordinates with Director, Data Collection and Special Projects in Organizational Assessment Division (OAD) regarding planning and implementation of data collection procedures for maximum effectiveness.
Assists in annual budgeting process, including all CPPS coordination and facilitation across divisions.
In coordination with Program Measurement Management Consultants, assists in establishing and maintaining efficiencies in data collection, definition, and analysis to ensure continued improvement in the quality of data collected from NWOs and other community development corporations.
Assists in ongoing efforts to develop a data dictionary and establish a standard for definition of data points that will be consistent across use of that data.


Represents CPPS at internal meetings and on task groups as assigned, and represents NeighborWorks® America at conferences and workshops as assigned by CPPS Director.
Ensures collaboration at the corporate level for cross-divisional programs and activities by identifying overlapping efforts.

Collaboration with officers, senior managers and program staff of multiple business units to provide information, interpret data, and support evaluation efforts. Interacts with staff of NWO and community development corporations to provide information, advise, interpret data and provide benchmarking and other tools to enhance their self-analysis.

Undergraduate degree in public policy, business, economics or finance, graduate degree strongly preferred and 6 – 8 years of experience in strategic and business process planning, performance evaluation, statistical analysis or any combination of education and experience that provide the following knowledge, skills and abilities:

At least 2 years experience in managing large complex projects with multiple stakeholders
Ability to work independently and make responsible decisions
Experience in statistical analysis, including multivariate statistics
MS Office products proficiency. Computer skills with database and business intelligence tools
Strong interpersonal skills
Excellent verbal and written skills sufficient to develop reports, explain complex information and make presentations of complex data


Fast paced working environment, extensive computer usage, and ongoing complex evaluative thinking, multitasking on a regular basis, extensive collaboration
Travel approximately 15%

NeighborWorks® America is committed to providing a productive and safe environment. To achieve that goal, we conduct background & reference check investigations for all final applicants being considered for employment.

Equal Opportunity Employment M/D/F/V

Read more ...

Job Posting: NeighborWorks America Analyst

From NNIP:

Job Description

TITLE: Analyst, Corporate Planning, Performance, and Strategy
Division: Corporate Planning, Performance, and Strategy
(half time position)
LOCATION: Washington DC


This job supports the CPPS division two ways: 1. Development of the annual corporate ‘scorecard’, timely & accurate submission & review of corporate quarterly results and, 2. Analysis of corporate performance data to provide the information necessary to inform program evaluation and planning. These functions require the ability to use technological tools to facilitate a robust interactive business intelligence environment that includes report design and implementation as well as the development of GIS/mapping capacity in the corporation.


Requires a strong knowledge and background in statistical research for the social sciences, and the ability to communicate clearly and concisely. Develop any required summaries and or presentations as may be required.
Responsible for development, production and optimization of a series of updatable reports for use in resource development and informing partners.
Assists in managing the quarterly updates for the corporate scorecard, establish a protocol for update submissions, participate in the development of meaningful metrics for evaluating performance. Assist in preparation of scorecard for corporate officers and Board of Directors.
Assists in annual budgeting process, including CPPS coordination and facilitation across divisions.
Assists in the ongoing effort to streamline and improve the quality of data collected from NWOs and other CDCs. This may range from working with the PM MCs, to collaboration with specific districts or district efforts (the Gulf) to keeping minutes of the NWO data working group sessions.
Assists in ongoing efforts to develop a data dictionary.
Coordinates with Director, Data Collection and Special Projects in OAD, regarding their work in data collection design, planning and implementation.


Represents CPPS at internal meetings and on task groups as assigned, and represents NeighborWorks® America at conferences and workshops as assigned by CPPS Director.
Works with other divisions as assigned to ensure internal customers are aware of other NeighborWorks® America activities that would assist in the achievement of the multi-year Strategic Plan and current goals.


A Bachelors degree is required in social sciences, economics, public policy research, or finance with strong statistical and research skills. An advanced degree in social sciences, economics, finance or public policy with a quantitative focus is preferred or any combination of education and experience that provides the following skills:
2-4 years work experience and demonstrated competency in research methods and statistical analysis.
Working knowledge of databases, able to use and manipulate large streams of data, experience with web-based technologies and proficiency in Microsoft office products
Knowledge of census data, geographical analysis, mapping or GIS applications.
Ability to work independently and make responsible decisions in accordance with established policies and procedures required;
Strong interpersonal and influencing skills sufficient to build working relationships internally and externally
Excellent verbal and written skills a must


Fast paced working environment, extensive computer usage, and ongoing complex evaluative thinking, multitasking on a regular basis, extensive collaboration
Travel approximately 15%

Equal Opportunity Employment M/D/F/V

Read more ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Hospital Data Available Throughout USA

I'm pretty excited about the announcement by USA TODAY that they are providing a geographically-searchable database of hospital outcomes. If you go to U.S. Hospital Death Rates, you can see how well hospitals in your state or your community treat heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia patients (by seeing which percent of the patients don't survive.)

Last fall, I heard Brian Klepper make the case that a key part of the solution to the national health care crisis was greater transparency in medical outcome data. And he argued that this transparency will come -- must come -- from private sector actors. And he suggested that this movement was both inevitable and imminent.

So this effort from the USA TODAY is a first shot across the bow. Go to this page and enter your zip code and a distance, then see the results of the hospitals in your area. Select three hospitals to compare, then get the graphs. The data is risk-adjusted, meaning it takes into consideration how sick the patients were when they entered, and the data is presented within a context of the national averages. I could quickly see that if I have heart failure coming on, our local Mayo Clinic is better than the national average at treating it.

This might be a really useful tool for community indicator projects. In my community, we currently measure community satisfaction levels with the quality of health care available, as well as age-adjusted death rates for a variety of things. But we don't have a really good way to talk about the quality of our health care system, except by anecdote. This could be an important step.

Now we need more. If you have other links for transparent outcome data for hospitals/doctors/health care systems, please pass it on. If you have innovative indicators to share, pass them on as well -- let's see how different communities are addressing this issue.

Read more ...

Measuring Poverty: A Preview

In preparation for Blog Action Day, and with a nudge from a piece I read by The Numbers Guy, I thought I'd talk about measuring poverty.

I think we know that how we measure poverty is flawed. This discussion of how world poverty started to be measured at a dollar a day is a backdrop to the real problem we have in the United States defining poverty. And while we anticipate the official poverty estimates to be released this month, we're still not sure we're measuring what we ought to be. Let me explain.

Here is the U.S. Census page on poverty, complete with definitions on how they measure poverty and poverty threshholds. Developed in 1963-64, they measure money income needed to sustain life, based on a presumed basket of required food. The Department of Health and Human Services uses its own poverty threshholds that they arrive at differently. While both have the same premise -- what is the bare dollar minimum needed to survive, based on assumptions made in the 1960's and adjusted for inflation since then -- HHS also recognizes geographical variability within the U.S., and has different threshholds for Alaska and Hawaii.

But we lack a common understanding of what poverty means. I've walked the favelas in Brazil and public housing in the States. I've worked one-on-one with the homeless and seen the difference between shelter and transitional housing. And what we mean by "poverty" is clearly context-specific -- see this effort in England to use lack of cell phones as a key indicator of child poverty. (Does this mean the entire world was poor in the early 1980s?)

The Joseph Rowntree foundation has just tried to create a new poverty standard for England. Their premise is that poverty is not being thought about properly -- we should instead be thinking about a minimum income needed to maintain a "socially acceptable standard of living." I'll let them explain:

This research aimed to find out what level of income people think is needed to afford a socially acceptable standard of living in Britain today, and to participate in society. The study compiled household budgets to calculate the first-ever minimum income standard (MIS) for Britain. Combining expert knowledge with in-depth consultation with members of the public, the MIS standard provides a new benchmark to inform future poverty debates and public policy decisions affecting the incomes of those worst off.

Tim Harford at Slate reacts to this study with a nice piece detailing some of the history of the Rowntree family, the history of poverty lines, and what the implications of this new approach might mean. It's a more amusing read than any discussion of poverty standards has a right to be, and I recommend taking a look.

But he noticed what the Rowntree folks found through focus groups -- a "socially acceptable standard of living" needed to participate in society means something different in every community. This suggests community-level income standards based on community needs. Is internet access necessary for community participation? Does your community require a personal automobile to successfully navigate the community and avoid being classified a second-classs citizen, or is your mass transit system a class-free service? The Rowntree Foundation set out to find a minimum income standard for England:

The groups recognised that people's needs vary. The MIS they constructed does not represent an acceptable living standard for every individual. Instead, it draws a line below which it is socially unacceptable for any individual to live.

And again:

A minimum standard of living in Britain today includes, but is more than just, food, clothes and shelter. It is about having what you need in order to have the opportunities and choices necessary to participate in society.

Tim Harford points out that the list of "what you need" is radically different than what we thought poor people needed in 1963:

The standard was set by focus groups working out what was and was not necessary "to participate in society." The results are frugal—there is a budget of £40 ($80) every two years to buy a suit, for instance—but they were always bound to be controversial. The list of essentials includes a self-catering vacation, a cell phone, and enough booze to get drunk twice a month.

So what would you need in your community to participate in society? What would your minimum income standards look like? Does this seem like a worthwhile exercise to try for your community? It might invigorate the debate over poverty and how to measure it, I suspect. What are your reactions?

Read more ...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Evidence-Based Public Health

I need to pass on another blog resource for you -- Evidence-Based Public Health. For those interested in health indicators, there's a number of resources available for you.

For example, here is a series of webinars on data sources that should prove useful. You may also like this information on teaching evidence-based public health to public health practitioners. There's also some good stuff on determinants of health.

The Evidence-Based Public Health blog is run by the library director at the University of Texas School of Public Health, and is a great example of how to quickly and simply share important information with others. I'm looking for more examples of this kind of on-line conversation or resources that touch on aspects of community indicators. My hope is to draw together some of the many threads that make up community-based measurement of the quality of life in communities, and to do that we need the help of as many subject experts as possible.

Thank you in advance for passing on your favorite resources!

Read more ...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reporting Statistics Blog

I've added a new blog to the blogroll on the right-hand side of this page: Reporting Statistics. It calls itself "Just a blog from a writer with some statistics to share" and "The Blog with the Search Engine for Statistics."

I'd like to encourage you to visit the blog, and not just because it says nice things about this site. It already has information of interest with better writing than this blog, and the author's just getting started.

(I had been toying with allowing advertisements on this blog to offset some of the upkeep costs. Reporting Statistics convinced me to delay that decision. Thank you for that inadvertent lesson at just the right time. I'm going to see if I can go another year ad-free on this site.)

Read more ...

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

Last year we participated in Blog Action Day. We will be doing so again this year on October 15. The topic for 2008 is Poverty. Here's more information if you would like to get involved:

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

One Issue, Thousands of Voices
Global issues like poverty are extremely complex. There is no simple, clear answer. By asking thousands of different people to give their viewpoints and opinions, Blog Action Day creates an extraordinary lens through which to view these issues. Each blogger brings their own perspective and ideas. Each blogger posts relating to their own blog topic. And each blogger engages their audience differently.

What is the aim of Blog Action Day?
First and last, the purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a discussion. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

By doing so on the same day, the blogging community effectively changes the conversation on the web and focuses audiences around the globe on that issue.

Out of this discussion naturally flow actions, advice, ideas, plans, and empowerment. In 2007 on the theme of the Environment, we saw bloggers running environmental experiments, detailing innovative ideas on creating sustainable practices and focusing audience’s attentions on organizations and companies promoting green agendas. In 2008 we aim to again focus the blogging community’s energies and passions, this time on the mammoth issue of global poverty.

Mass Participation
From the smallest online journals, to huge online magazines, to EU ministers, to professionals and amateurs, Blog Action Day is about mass participation. Anyone is free to join in on Blog Action Day and there is no limit on the number of posts, the type of posts or the direction of thoughts and opinions.

Read more ...

Dashboards Dashboards Everywhere

I'm excited to find this collection of business intelligence dashboards and to pass it on to you. We have talked about community indicators and dashboards before, and I had provided a couple of examples, but at Dashboards By Example you can find hundreds more.

Also linked to on the site is Meryl's Notes Blog's Top 175 Data Visualization Resources compiled after the author took a class that discussed Edward Tufte.

There's an enormous amount of information here -- one that will require review and sifting to find the best examples for community indicators work. Before I tackle that, however, I thought I'd pass on the full lists so you could find your own favorites. (Feel free to let me know which ones you like best!)

And here are a few dashboards that use data visualization tools in interesting ways. Lots of information in very little space conveyed in a visually pleasing manner ... that's what we're looking for.

Read more ...

Istanbul Forum Proceedings Available

Here's a great offer I had to pass along while the costs were still low:

The proceedings from 2nd World Forum, Measuring and Fostering the Progress of Societies in Istanbul 2007 are ready to be distributed in October. This 550 page book contains 40 of the best papers that were presented at the Forum. Please find below the table of contents.

If you wish to purchase a copy at a reduced price at € 18.24 (including shipping cost), please fill in the order form and send back to me at by 7th September. Payment details will follow after orders are received. Please note that after this date, copies will cost €101.14 including shipping.

Thank you very much.

Best regards,

Yoon Jung Lee
+33 (0)1 45 24 88 25

Statistics, Knowledge and Policy 2007:
Measuring and Fostering the Progress of Societies

[Table of contents]

Foreword: A. Gurría
Introduction: E. Giovannini

Measuring the Progress of Societies: Does it make a difference for Policy Making and Democracy?

A. Gurría
D. Walker: How Key National Indicators can Improve Policymaking and Strengthen Democracy
R. J. Romanow: Promoting progress: making it happen

Measuring progress and political processes to foster progress

A. Siegel: Beyond measuring – The Council of Europe’s instruments contributing to the progress of societies
J. Frenk& O. Gómez-Dantés: Global public goods for local Decision-making: Empowerment through Evidence
C. Glassman: Evidence-based policy making: Just a myth or a must?
R. A. Virola: Empowering and Challenging Voters through Governance Indicators: The Philippine Experience

Accountability and civic engagement
M. Canoy, F. Lerais, M. Mascherini, A. Saltelli, D. Vidoni : The Importance of Social Reality for Europe’s Economy: An Application to Civil Participation
S. Chandra: Power to people: Indicators for Accountability
C. Michalos: Connecting Communities with Community Indicators

Measuring progress: people’s perceptions and knowledge

J. Almunia: People’s Perceptions vs. Reality – Drawing lessons from the use of statistics in the European Union
R. Curtin: What US consumers know about Economic Conditions
A. Papacostas: European’s Knowledge on Economical Indicators
F. Fullone, M. Gamba, E. Giovannini and M. Malgarini: What do citizens know about Statistics? The Results of the OECD/ISAE survey on Italian Consumers

Subjective measures of well-being

A. van Hoorn: An introduction to Subjective Well-being: Measurement, Correlates and Policy uses
R. Veenhoven: Measures of Gross National Happiness

Challenges for national statistical offices

H. K. van Tuinen: Innovative Statistics to Improve our Notion of Reality
A. Elahi: Challenges of Data Collection – With Special Regard to Developing Countries
D. Trewin: An Effective Global Statistical System – A Prerequisite for Consistency in Global Measurements

Measuring progress: economic, social and environmental issues

Economic issues

R. W. Edwards: Policy and Statistical Issues Underpinning Financial Stability: the IMF Perspective
P. de Lombaerde and P. L. Iapadre : International Integration and Societal Progress : A Critical Review of Globalisation Indicators
L. Cook: Understanding Retirement Saving and Pensions
H. van der Pol: Key Role of Cultural and Creative Industries in the Economy
J. Grice: Measuring and Improving Government Performance

Social issues

G. Banks: Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage in Australia
R. W. Eberts: Trends in Worker Requirements and the Need for Better Information to Make More Informed Decisions in a Global Economy
F. Stanley and S. R. Zubrick: Child Development, Human Development and the Progress of Societies
P. Ester& M. Kerkhofs: Human Capital and the Older Worker – The Need for Solid Indicators
V. Volkan: Societal well-being after experiencing trauma at the hand of “others”: The intertwining of political, economic and other visible factors with hidden psychological processes affecting victimized populations

Environmental issues

J. Loh: The Living Planet Index and Ecological Footprint: Tracking the State of Global Biodiversity and Human Pressures on the Biosphere
O. Al-Jayyuosi: The State of Ecosystems and Progress of Society
D. Trewin: How Reliable are Climate Change Projections – A Statistician’s Perspective

Gender: a key dimension of societal progress

D. Drechsler, J. Jütting and L. T. Katseli: Social Institutions and Gender Equality

Measuring societal progress for local communities

A. Holett, D. May and C. Giles: The Newfoundland and Labrador System of Community Accounts
A. Thornley: Developing Indicators for Local Communities: the New Zealand Experience
S. Brutschy and D. Zachary: Achieving Outcomes from Indicators: Community Assessment Projects in the United States, a Focus on Santa Cruz County

Using indicators to make governments accountable

Ö. Dinçer: Measuring and Improving the Success of Governments
B. Manby: AfriMAP: On not using Indicators to Score Progress in Governance
R. Swinkels& M. Brouwer: National Progress and the Effectiveness of International Aid
A. Kaminara: Case Study: Introducing Standard Indicators in European Commission Funded Projects for Aggregation of Aid Effect

Read more ...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happiness Updates

Measuring happiness is all over the news, and I wanted to share some updates with you. Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson wrote a paper, Happiness Inequality in the United States (PDF), which says the following:

While there has been no increase in aggregate happiness, inequality in happiness has fallen substantially since the 1970s. There have been large changes in the level of happiness across groups: Two-thirds of the black-white happiness gap has been eroded, and the gender happiness gap has disappeared entirely. Paralleling changes in the income distribution, differences in happiness by education have widened substantially.

Justin Wolfers wrote a three=part series on the Freakonomics blog about the paper which you might find interesting. The research started showing up in unusual places to make political points -- see especially Ezra Klein's take on the data and his musings about the effects of Prozac on the results.

There's also a new volume out for the Journal of Happiness Studies. The articles seem quite interesting -- what do self-help books, Epicurus, Schopenhauer, and ancient Chinese philosophers really know about happiness? There's even an article called "lost in data space" (PDF) that reviews Joe Sirgy's book, The Psychology of Quality of Life. I'm looking forward for copy of the Journal to come in the mail.

Read more ...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Trying Out Widgenie

I decided to try out Widgenie, a new data visualization tool that allows you to create and share charts and graphs. Here's my first attempt:

Let me tell you my opinion of the site so far (realizing it's still in beta test):

First, I like the animation. I like the mouseover that lets you get the individual data points. I like that you can share the graph with others. It's stronger/sharper than just cutting-and-pasting Excel-generated images into your blog/presentation/Facebook account/iGoogle/website/etc. I also like how it tracks who's using your widget and who's viewing it. That could generate interesting data on its own.

Problems: The data conversion is a little rough. The 2002-03 date fields turned into March 1, 2003, at 5:00 AM dates. The percentages (not shown) were converted into decimals. I didn't have any way to edit/fix those. Be careful in how you format your information before uploading it. That's not a deal-breaker, but it would be nice to be able to at least tell the widgenie that you're working with percentages and to display that properly.

The bigger issue, I think, is the metadata. I didn't see how to source the information I was uploading or displaying. I think that ought to be fixed, and I hope the developers will not just permit but insist that data be sourced. Otherwise, why bother creating portable, sharable graphs? I think the information could be put in the "description" slot, but that didn't strike me as intuitively the place for data source information.

I'm going to play around with the site a bit more, and encourage you to do the same and report back on what you like/don't like about the site.

Happy charting!

Read more ...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network (CSIN)

An alert reader pointed out that I had failed to list the Canadian Sustainability Indicators Network (CSIN) as a resource for indicators-minded people (since corrected.) I think many of you may be interested in the work they're doing and the learning events, listserve, and resources they offer, even if you're not living in Canada.

Here's what they offer in terms of learning events:

CSIN, with support from the Knowledge Integration Strategies office at Environment Canada and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), is enabling indicator practitioners from across Canada to make connections.

Using Web-conferencing technology, practitioners gather around the virtual meeting table to learn about each other's initiatives and to get feedback on their own work. Learning Events are designed and presented by CSIN members themselves and are open to all members.

Participants to date have come from city and provincial planning and/or environment/resource departments; multi-stakeholder watershed-based coalitions; academic institutions; national and community NGOs; federal indicator programs; and sustainability think tanks.

In an effort to record and make accessible the information that is shared during learning events, presentations, summaries and reports developed for or from the learning events are provided where possible. Please contact the
CSIN Coordinator if you require any further information.

They also offer a listserve and other resources of value to the indicators practitioner.

Check it out! And keep sending me information I can share with readers of this blog.

Read more ...