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 Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.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, February 4, 2010

It's Census Time!

The 2010 Census is upon us, and many of us are involved in encouraging people to fill out their Census forms and send them back. At a recent Complete Count Committee meeting here in Jacksonville, a Census worker suggested that participation in the census was a more important civic engagement exercise than voting.

We had a great conversation last year at the National Association of Planning Councils' conference on Census issues, and I'd suggest you look at those speaker presentations for some interesting information. I know that we in the indicators world tend to use census information a lot, and the changes with the ACS sample size and lack of a long form survey pose challenges to data use.

At the same time, a new study has come out challenging the accuracy of the IPUMS data, especially as it relates to people over age 65. When you think about the sheer number of policy decisions that are based on Census information, you quickly see the critical need to get it right in not just the count but in the ways the numbers are statistically modified to protect privacy.

So let me ask: How are you using Census data? ACS data? How are you involved in encouraging people to fill out their Census information? And if you had a wish list, what would you do to improve the census information-gathering and reporting processes?


  1. I have a moderately on-topic comment (and a plug for one of our projects). I wanted to make sure you knew about the Census 2010 Hard to Count mapping site (

    It pinpoints census tracts across the country considered difficult to enumerate and enables the user to display detailed demographic and housing characteristics that create challenges to achieving an accurate count in certain communities. Census advocates (including Complete Count Committees and other organizations) can use the site to tailor their outreach activities and messages to address specific barriers, such as language difficulties or low educational attainment.

  2. Thanks! I hadn't seen the site before, and you're right, this is quite useful information for planning outreach activities.