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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, January 19, 2010

JCCI Releases 25th Annual Quality of Life Progress Report

The Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI) releases its Silver Anniversary edition of the Quality of Life Progress Report. The 2009 report reflects a complete redesign of the 25-year-old report on trends in the quality of life in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, along with new interactive web-based mapping technology to provide state-wide comparisons of much of the data.

The report assesses the quality of life in Jacksonville through more than one hundred individual indicators that detail trends in nine sections of the community: Achieving Educational Excellence; Growing a Vibrant Economy; Preserving the Natural Environment; Promoting Social Wellbeing & Harmony; Enjoying Arts, Culture & Recreation; Sustaining a Healthy Community; Maintaining a Responsive Government; Moving Around Efficiently; and Keeping the Community Safe.

“For 25 years the JCCI Quality of Life Progress Report has provided vital data about where we are, where we’ve been and where we need to be,” says Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton in the report: “This Silver Anniversary edition continues to guide us as a community.”

The 18-page Summary Report being released Tuesday provides a succinct assessment of our quality of life using two Key Indicators and up to 5 supporting indicators per section. A companion online Reference Document provides greater detail as well as additional indicators.

The third piece being unveiled at the release is JCCI’s Community Snapshot, a new online data display and mapping technology. “I can’t overstate the technological leap we have made with this upgrade,” said JCCI President Chris Arab. “It literally makes data come alive.” With Community Snapshot, JCCI will update indicators as soon as new data is provided. Community policy and resource decision makers will be able to assess progress and make their decisions with the latest information possible.

Newly installed Regional Chamber of Commerce Chair Kelly Madden led the 21-person review committee that rebuilt this year’s report and prioritized the indicators for each section. “We took our work seriously“, said Madden, understanding they were creating a new framework for conveying the story of Jacksonville’s quality of life. Ms. Madden will present the report to Mayor Peyton and the citizens of Jacksonville. Mayor Peyton will also speak at the event.

JCCI’s Quality of Life Report is the longest continuously running community indicators report in the nation. Created in 1985 by community volunteers, it is an internationally recognized standard. JCCI will recognize those 1985 pioneers during this Silver Anniversary event.

The data for the Quality of Life Progress Report is obtained from the records and documents of public and private organizations. An annual opinion survey provides the remaining data.

Read more in this story from The Florida Times-Union.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seattle Information Technology Indicators Project

Since this blog tends to attract people who are both technologically savvy (at least savvy enough to read a blog!) and interested in community indicators, I thought you might want to read about this new effort, the Seattle Information Technology Indicators Project.

The Seattle IT department conducted city-wide surveys and focus groups in order to understand how well they're doing in creating a "technologically healthy community." This link provides access to their goals, indicators, and reports they've created to answer the question.

I was leading a training session this morning in my community about our new web-based indicators tool and got into an interesting discussion about future indicator sets -- are we thinking now about the things we will need to measure to understand our community in the face of constant, exponential change in so many aspects of society? I don't have an answer to that question yet -- I'll be mulling it over and would love your inputs -- but what they're doing in Seattle is likely an important step in rethinking community visions and the indicators we need to be measuring.

Hat tip: Jonl via twitter

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Friday, January 8, 2010

JCCI Releases 5th Annual Race Relations Progress Report

The Jacksonville Community Council Inc (JCCI) released its 2009 Race Relations Progress Report during the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfast on January 8th at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. This is the fifth edition of the annual report that examines progress in addressing racial disparities and improving race relations in Jacksonville.

The 2009 report examines perceptions about race gained by annual survey and hard data that portray the realities of race and racial disparities across the Jacksonville community. Created as the result of JCCI’s 2002 citizen-led study, Beyond the Talk: Improving Race Relations (PDF), the progress report provides historical data spanning as much as 25 years across six areas: Education; Employment and Income; Housing and Neighborhoods; Health; Justice and the Legal System; and Civic Engagement and the Political System.

Jennifer Chapman of Fidelity Investments and Broderick Green of the Chamber’s Cornerstone Regional Development Partnership led the team that reviewed this year’s report and presented their findings at Friday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfast. “Eliminating racial disparities in our community is not only a moral imperative – it’s an economic one,” Chapman and Green stated. Among highlights in the 2009 report is the widening black-white gap in the perception of whether racism is a problem in Jacksonville. This hinders the community’s ability to come together to take action and solve the real problems that exist, according to the JCCI report.

The report reflects mixed signals in the area of education, where graduation rates improved but racial disparities widened. Of great concern were growing racial disparities in the areas of employment and income, fueled by the recession, where black minority populations were hit especially hard. Positive indicators included perceptions of neighborhood safety, heart disease death rates, declining homicide rates, voter turnout, and black felony inmate admissions, although significant racial disparities in several of these areas.

Copies of the report were distributed at the MLK Breakfast and are available in hard copy from the JCCI offices or online at For more information contact JCCI at 904-396-3052.

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