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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, April 30, 2009

Google Public Data New Tool Released

The Official Google Blog reports that they've released a new search tool -- one that accesses public information and builds on their acquisition of Trendalyzer.

Here's how it works:

  1. Go to
  2. Type in [unemployment rate] or [population], followed by a U.S. state or county. (Just type in the county name -- "unemployment rate duval" worked for me, while "unemployment rate duval county florida" gave me other links but not the publicdata information.)
  3. The most recent estimates will appear. Click on the publicdata link, and you'll get an interactive table.
The table gave me monthly unemployment rates from 1990 to March 2009 for Duval County, Florida. It then had a list of states and counties and I could click on any one of them and get instant comparative data charted alongside my original county on the graph. Very cool.

Google says,

"The data we're including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the interesting public data available on the web. There are statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school graduation rates, bakers' salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on. Reliable information about these kinds of things exists thanks to the hard work of data collectors gathering countless survey forms, and of careful statisticians estimating meaningful indicators that make hidden patterns of the world visible to the eye. All the data we've used in this first launch are produced and published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Division. They did the hard work! We just made the data a bit easier to find and use.

Since Google's acquisition of Trendalyzer two years ago, we have been working on creating a new service that make lots of data instantly available for intuitive, visual exploration. Today's launch is a first step in that direction. We hope people will find this search feature helpful, whether it's used in the classroom, the boardroom or around the kitchen table. We also hope that this will pave the way for public data to take a more central role in informed public conversations.

This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more."

You can read more about the new tool in this Washington Post article. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities.


  1. Wow. That is really cool. Just click on a few boxes and you can graphically compare data. What a timesaver! Thanks for sharing that! I've been off the Internet for a month now (satellite issues) and I never would have known if you didn't post this! Thanks! (P.S. Very classy new layout!)

  2. Thanks for the feedback! My son helped me create the look and feel of the blog -- glad you like it.