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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, November 24, 2009

Data Quality Campaign Update

Here's a press release updating the latest survey results from the Data Quality Campaign. I thought you might be interested and want to get involved on your state level pushing for better data quality.

Each year, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) surveys all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to assess states’ progress toward implementing the 10 Essential Elements of a high-quality longitudinal data system. In 2005, no states reported having all 10 Elements. This year, 11 states have all 10 Elements (up from six states in 2008). Other signs of progress include:

* 31 states have eight or more Elements.

* Only two states have fewer than five Elements in place.

* All but one state collect student-level enrollment, demographic and program participation data (Element 2) and student-level graduation and dropout data (Element 8).

* All but two states have a unique student identifier that connects student data across key databases and across years (Element 1) and have the ability to match students’ test records from year to year to measure academic growth (Element 3).

ARRA has motivated states to remove barriers to data sharing, and it provides a strategic opportunity to engage a broad range of state stakeholders in a thoughtful dialogue around how data systems should be built, expanded and used to inform decisions to improve both individual and system outcomes.

In January 2010, the DQC will release its first report on the 10 State Actions to ensure the effective use of longitudinal data, which will provide greater detail on how states are changing policies and practices to promote linkages across systems, ensure appropriate access to new data and analysis, and strengthen stakeholder capacity to use the information.

Overview Documents

* 2009 DQC Annual Progress Report

The Annual Progress Report on State Data Systems is a DQC publication that reports on states’ progress in building the 10 Essential Elements in their statewide longitudinal data systems. States are making progress; however, many states lack critical Elements essential for addressing college and career readiness and the impact that teachers have on student achievement (Elements 5, 6 and 7).

* 2009 DQC Annual Survey – Combined State Profiles

All state profiles include the state’s status on the 10 Essential Elements, which key policy questions the state can answer, a national comparison across states, and a preview for the 10 State Actions. This document combines all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico state profiles.

* 2009 DQC Annual Survey State of the States

This presentation was given by Aimee Guidera, Executive Director of the Data Quality Campaign, on November 21, 2009 at the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSS) Annual Policy Forum. The presentation highlights the state of the nation regarding the 10 Essential Elements, describes key ARRA opportunities, acknowledges states progress and encourages work toward the 10 State Actions.

* 2009 DQC Annual Survey Press Release

Every state is on track to have a longitudinal data system that follows student progress from preschool through college by 2011. However, many states still lack key elements that could inform critical policy discussions like college and career readiness and teacher impact, states the report, which was released during the Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) Annual Policy Forum on November 21, 2009.

Find individual state profiles  and each of the documents listed above here.

Read more ...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

PolicyMap Releases New Widget

Introducing the PolicyMap 'Widget'!
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ --, a national online data warehouse and mapping application, now offers subscribers an exciting new tool: the ability to embed fully interactive maps on their own websites. PolicyMap provides a wealth of neighborhood data through fluid online maps, tables and reports.

This new offering -- The PolicyMap Widget -- is a customizable instance of PolicyMap that displays interactive maps on your website in just a few, simple steps. Like PolicyMap, the widgets can display data at a variety of geographies -- from an address to a block group, zip code or congressional district. PolicyMap widgets are fully interactive -- giving both the visualization of a thematic or heat map and the underlying information for any place you click. 

"When Mercy Portfolio Services (MPS) partnered with the City of Chicago to design, implement and report on the City's $55M Neighborhood Stabilization Program, we created a system called Community Central. Integrating Community Central with the PolicyMap widget takes us to a new level of data capacity and presentation," said Bill Goldsmith, President of MPS. "It allows stakeholders to analyze our work more strategically. With our data and PolicyMap's, we track projects and identify trends affecting our communities. PolicyMap's data warehouse and technology is unmatched in today's marketplace."

PolicyMap uses cutting-edge technology to display sophisticated, fast, interactive maps in ordinary Web browsers. "These are not maps that give you driving directions or help you find the nearest cafe," said Maggie McCullough, PolicyMap Director. "But if you want to track unemployment or home sales in communities nationwide, this is where to go. The ability to dynamically render and customize thousands of shaded maps sets this technology apart, making it especially suited to interactive research and data analysis."

To see a widget in action, check out TRF's charter school investments.

Or embed PolicyMap’s first FREE widget: a national map of county unemployment data. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases new monthly unemployment data, your widget automatically updates. 

About TRF and PolicyMap
A CNET Web100 award-winning online mapping tool that makes it quick and easy to gather and analyze geocentric information, PolicyMap is a service of The Reinvestment Fund, a not-for-profit leader in the financing of neighborhood revitalization. PolicyMap empowers decision makers with credible market and demographic data in an easy-to-use geographic information system. For information, visit or call 1-866-923-MAPS.

CONTACT: Margaret Bradley, +1-267-304-5397

Read more ...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Londrina, Brazil and Using Community Indicators for Transformation

Tuesday this week I met with representatives of the Fórum Desenvolve Londrina (roughly the Londrina, Brazil Development Forum). Londrina is a city of about a half-million people in the state of Paraná, Brazil.We had gone down to Paraná a few years ago to help them launch a community indicators project, and they had last come up to Jacksonville to see us in 2006.

They're doing some impressive work. Their Manual de Indicadores de Desenvolvimento Londrina 2008 (PDF) begins with a vision:

“Londrina 2034: uma comunidade ativa e articulada, construindo uma cidade humana, segura e saudável, tecnologicamente avançada, integrada com a região Norte do Paraná e globalmente conectada, com uma economia diversificada e dinâmica promovendo o equilíbrio social, cultural e ambiental.”

(Londrina 2034: an active, connected community, building a humane, safe, healthy, and technologically advanced city, integrated with the entire North Paraná region and connected globally, with a diverse and dynamic economy promoting a social, cultural and environmental balance.)

They use their indicators report to:

– Fomentar as ações comunitárias;
– Estimular a comunidade para melhoria da qualidade de vida;
– Facilitar o direcionamento de atitudes para implantação de projetos;
– Detalhar melhor a situação por área especifica;
– Intensificar a comunicação da comunidade.

  • Encourage community action;
  • Stimulate the community to improve the quality of life;
  • Facilitate change in attitudes towards project implementation;
  • Provide details of the current situation in specific areas of the community; and
  • Enhance community communication.
Their indicators reports are accompanied by annual studies. Last year's study was on providing opportunities for all in business development, and a task force is currently working on implementing the principal ten recommendations from that study. The new study is on human mobility -- looking at transportation systems from a broad perspective, including roadways and public transit but also including sidewalks and pedestrian traffic in an overall examination of how people get around in their community.

They've been working hard to align the business, government, and university sectors of their community to create cooperative partnerships and a shared community agenda. They're doing some pretty amazing work, and demonstrating the universality of a community change model structured around community indicators.

If you speak Portuguese, take a look at the work they're doing. Ary Sudan told me that the model is spreading to other cities across Brazil as the country moves through a remarkable transformation into a global power. If you don't speak Portuguese, now would be a good time to learn.

Read more ...

Richmond, Indiana Using Community Indicators for Community Discussion

Check out this report from the Palladium-Item (which is one of the odder names for a local newspaper I've ever seen) about the RICHMOND INDICATORS: A Community and Economic Benchmark Report (PDF). They're hosting a televised program with interactive internet chat to discuss the implications of the indicators report for competition, struggle, and opportunity in economic development.

The report covers demographics and economic indicators, plus a social capital index, commute sheds, and an innovation index. It's an interesting report out of eastern Indiana and worth a look at what they're doing and how they're trying to engage the public around the report.

Read more ...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Request for Comments: Healthy People Objectives

Thought you might appreciate this opportunity to give feedback --

Message from Dr. William Thompson regarding the US Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People objectives:

Dear All,

Every 10 years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develops what are called Healthy People objectives. These national objectives are designed to measure important health outcomes that can be monitored over time and can be improved upon based on disease prevention and health promotion. The objectives serve as a planning guide for the nation, states, communities and other stakeholders to improve the public's health. The draft objectives by topic area for Healthy People 2020 have been published online ( Under the heading Quality of Life and Well-Being, there is text describing the current status of this topic area. A set of objectives encompassing the areas of Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being have been submitted and are under consideration by the Healthy People program. The proposed objectives are listed below.

We would like to encourage interested stakeholders to provide public comments regarding the scientific data that support the reliability and validity of measuring Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being outcomes at the population level as well as propose potential additional objectives.

Feedback from the public, particularly those with expertise in the area, is a very important part of this process and can help with decisions regarding topics to include. The public comments can be made at

Please note that all comments will be needed by December 31st, 2009.


William W. Thompson, PhD
Team Lead, Health-Related Quality of Life National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Julie Dawson Weeks, Ph.D.
Chief (acting), Aging and Chronic Disease Studies Branch National Center for Health Statistics US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Proposed Healthy People 2020 Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being Objectives:

Objective 1: Reduce the reported number of physically and mentally unhealthy days among adults in the US population.
1a. Reduce the reported number of physically unhealthy days.
1b. Reduce the reported number of mentally unhealthy days.

Objective 2: Increase the number of adults in the U.S. population who report high levels of health-related quality of life in the physical, mental, and social domains.
2a. Increase the proportion of adults who report high levels of physical health-related quality of life.
2b. Increase the proportion of adults who report high levels of mental health-related quality of life.
2c. Increase the proportion of adults who report high levels of social health-related quality of life.

Objective 3. Increase the percentage of persons in the US population who report physical, mental, and social well-being.
3a. Increase the percentage of adults who report satisfaction with life 3b. Increase the percentage of adults who report feeling positive affect 3c. Increase the percentage of adults who report receiving social and emotional support 3d. Increase the percentage of adults who report 20 or more days of vitality 3e. Increase the percentage of adults who report a sense of autonomy, competence and relatedeness

Objective 4. Reduce the proportion of adults in the U.S. population who report being unable to participate, or who report having difficulty participating, in common activities.

Read more ...