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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, November 12, 2008

Report Release: Atlas of Sustainability Indicators

The Atlas of Sustainability Indicators for Rio de Janeiro has been released, and it's an interesting look at the home of Carnival. As this article says, "The Atlas of Sustainability Indicators for Coastal Municipalities of the State of Rio de Janeiro has been developed in order to publish the results of the analysis of 40 sustainability indicators, within the six ecodevelopment dimensions proposed by Ignacy Sachs (spatial, cultural, economical, ecological, social and political), as to the 34 coastal municipalities of the State of Rio de Janeiro."

It's a reminder that Rio's not all just fun and games, but also is struggling with social and environmental concerns. And the report, which also lines up with the Millenium Development Goals, gives us a look at the challenges they face as the State of Rio de Janeiro down to the neighborhood level.

The report, which can be found here, measures some interesting indicators. The spatial dimension includes indicators on land area in urbanization, in forest, and in permanent farming. The social dimension includes infant mortality, life expectancy at birth, and homicides, but also includes a variety of other indicators, including illiteracy and sufficiency of teachers.

It's the political dimension that I found most intriguing. The report measures Total Municipal Capital Expenditures, Total Municipal Current Expenses, Municipal Expenses Directed to Education and Culture, Municipal Expenses Directed to Health and Sanitation, and Municipal Expenses Directed to National Security and Public Defense -- but doesn't address any measures of civic engagement or quality of public officials. The measures are of priorities demonstrated through allocations, not measures of the effectiveness, inclusiveness, or responsiveness of government. (And I suppose voter registration/turnout doesn't make sense as an indicator where voting is compulsory.)

The report has a series of graphics and maps to further provide information. It also references the following national sustainability indicator efforts:

Australia: Environmental Indicators for National State of the Environment Reporting

Brasil: IDS - Indicadores de Desenvolvimento Sustent√É¡vel - Brasil 2004

Canada: Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators

United States: Indicadores - EPA


There's also a page of useful links for the reader.

Thanks for the heads-up, and keep the new indicator report releases coming!


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