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Data Day 2012_Henderson_Using Indicators-A Primer
 

Data Day 2012_Henderson_Using Indicators-A Primer

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  • This presentation will serve as a primer for using indicators to drive community change – the reason we’ve all been brought here today. For those of you familiar with using indicators, this will be a bit of a review, but we thought it would be a good idea to talk a bit about indicators for those of us who may be less familiar with them. And about a year ago I would put myself in that category. Following this presentation we’ll hear Charlotte Kahn, Senior Director of the Boston Indicators Project at the Boston Foundation, and James Farnam, Principal of Farnam Associates, LLC, discuss their extensive history using indicators to track progress in Boston and New Haven, respectively.
  • The work that we do at MAPC is guided by MetroFuture, the regional plan for Greater Boston from now through 2030 to improve access to transportation, increase affordable housing, preserve natural resources, and make the region a more equitable one overall. It’s this equity component that really inspires many of us in the room – because it’s clear that inequities still exist – and Marc Draisen’s presentation on the State of Equity in Metro Boston during the keynote really underscored this point. The State of Equity in Metro Boston is the first in a series of indicator reports that will monitor the region’s progress towards achieving goals set out by the MetroFuture plan; a plan in which thousands of people convened to discuss their vision for the region. Examples of some of the equity related goals of MetroFuture are displayed here.
  • Before we talk about the Regional Indicators project, it’s important we all have a general understanding of what an indicator is. An indicator allows us to assess progress and is necessary to make periodic, quantitative assessments of conditions. A regional indicator should include information at a variety of levels, providing an understanding of conditions in the region generally, as well as a comparison of conditions across and within cities and towns, by race/ethnicity, and by income and education. It’s important to note that indicators differ from context setting variables, which are elements that we can’t change or are difficult to change -- a person’s race or ethnicity, for example, can’t change. Interests rates monitored by the federal reserve would be very difficult to change. We have more control over indicators and do expect to see change over time given specific interventions or policies.
  • It’s not always clear which indicators to use when doing an indicators project. Conducting a literature review of other indicators project is a good first step, so you can get an idea of what others have used in the past. You may also need to test the indicator, to be sure it really measures what you are looking for, as well as cross reference the indicator in other research to see how it was used. A larger endeavor would involve piloting the indicator by collecting information and evaluating whether the results reflect your needs.
  • Good indicators have the following qualities….Many of the indicators we use measure our progress toward smart growth practices– which encompasses compact, walkable and bikeable urban centers with a range of housing choices – attributes which ultimately lead to a more sustainable region (due to the reduction of transportation costs, preservation of natural resources, efficient use of space, and a sense of community that residents aspire to preserve). Smart growth concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl and advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices (Wikipedia). TOD:  compact, mixed-use development within walking distance of public transportation - is a key element of livable and sustainable communities.  TOD creates communities where people of all ages and incomes have access to transportation and housing choices by increasing location efficiency and allowing people to walk, bike and take transit for their daily trips.  TOD is attractive to its residents because it fosters a convenient and affordable lifestyle where housing, jobs, restaurants, and entertainment are all in convenient proximity. In addition, TOD increases transit ridership and reduces automobile congestion, providing value for both the public and private sectors. -FTA
  • This bring us to our Regional Indicators Project here at MAPC. The recently released State of Equity Report and website is our 1 st product to come out of the Regional Indicators Project and it serves as baseline for where the region is now; allowing us to track our progress through future indicators reports. By illuminating key needs, this indicators report will also inform policy recommendations to make a more equitable region. It will be followed by a policy agenda which will build on the MetroFuture recommendations for change, proving advocates and policy makers with a set of tools that will enable them to work to build the region that benefits all residents.
  • We looked to MetroFuture, our shared vision for the region, to help shape the regional indicators project. We needed clear goals to help guide this process. There are 65 goals outlined in MetroFuture, which are supported by a set of more specific, and largely numeric, objectives. And as many objectives as possible are tied to indicators, which are regularly collected data points that form the basis of the regional indicators project. Here we see an example of how the goals, objectives and indicators relate.
  • We looked to MetroFuture, our shared vision for the region, to help shape the regional indicators project. We needed clear goals to help guide this process. There are 65 goals outlined in MetroFuture, which are supported by a set of more specific, and largely numeric, objectives. And as many objectives as possible are tied to indicators, which are regularly collected data points that form the basis of the regional indicators project. Here we see an example of how the goals, objectives and indicators relate.
  • There are many indicators to chose from for an indicators report, but we highlighted equity-related goals first, because meeting them is crucial to achieving the vibrant region envisioned in MetroFuture. The indicators used fell under the following topic areas, economy, education, environment, housing, public health, public safety, and transportation, which spanned a number of different data sources, including census and american community survey data, data from the department of elementary and secondary education, hud, massgis, the department of health, and many others. These datasets were used because they reflected our indicators of interest, were accessible, and timely. Some of the indicators used in the State of Equity report and website include income, income inequality measures, the poverty rate, segregation measures, foreclosure rates, health outcomes such as low birth weight and asthma hospitalization rates, educational outcomes related to enrollment in high poverty schools, standardized test scores, graduation and dropout rates, educational attainment, access to transit, labor force participation, access to open space, and many, many others.
  • There were a number of indicators that we could not use in the report however, either because they were unavailable, costly, outdated, or weren’t available at the geographic level of interest. There are several datasets, ten to be exact that we have not management to get our hands on, and they are listed here.
  • The State of Equity report was very timely, because it was released in the midst of the Occupy protests, which criticize the increasing income inequality in this country, a theme that’s weaved throughout the State of Equity Report. The report is also accessible to all and easily interpretable it reads more like a story than a typical indicators report. Unlike many indicators reports, it uses a life stages framework, explaining how inequities affect individuals at each life stage, infants and children, teens and young adults, adults, and older adults, chronicling the story of how equity affects individuals throughout their lives. This approach differs from that of more traditional indicators reports which often only present data points by topic area.
  • To sum things up, there are a few things we should keep in mind when using indicators to track change. It’s important to conduct research to ensure the indicator measures what you want it to, the indicator should be available and collected regularly, and should also be easily interpretable. It also needs to be sensitive to change. You should be able to make policy recommendations based on the findings of your indicators, but most importantly there should a number of goals and objectives guiding the process; particularly those formed through a community visioning process.
  • We can do our part to develop the best indicators to help us track change and bring about a more equitable region, however, there is still much to be done at higher levels. To improve data collection for indicators research, we must democratize information, which includes… Metro Boston needs greater capacity to use data and information in decision making at the local, regional, and state level. The first step is to align data collection and research to support key policy issues. Ensuring access to and the utility of data will require a strong “information infrastructure” (both technical and institutional) and the widespread application of advanced tools to support citizen and business engagement. Metro Boston is well-positioned to pilot a new approach to regional data collection. Local, regional, and state actors can act now to share data sources and services to create flexibility, save money, enhance access, and foster collaboration across state agencies and the public.

Data Day 2012_Henderson_Using Indicators-A Primer Data Day 2012_Henderson_Using Indicators-A Primer Presentation Transcript

  • Using Indicators to Drive Community Change: A Primer Jamila Henderson Research Analyst Metropolitan Area Planning Council Friday, January 27, 2012
  • This presentation serves as a…
    • Primer on indicators and the MAPC Regional Indicators Project
      • To lay the groundwork and form a common understanding of using indicators to track progress over time
  • Metro Boston’s Regional Plan: MetroFuture
    • A wider diversity of housing types are built in all communities (Goal #16), helping to combat segregation based on race, ethnicity, and income (Goal #15).
    Health outcomes improve for residents of historically disadvantaged communities, with increased access to healthy food “(Goal #24), green space (Goal #23), better air quality (Goal #22), and medical care (Goal #26).
  • An indicator…
    • Allows us to assess progress and track change over time
    • Is measurable
  • How to develop an indicator
    • Literature review
    • Testing
    • Cross-reference
    • Pilot
    • Convening and input from stakeholder
  • What makes a good indicator?
    • Relevant to subject of interest
    • Available
    • Collected regularly
    • Interpretable
    • Cost effective
    • Sensitive to change
  • Regional Indicators Project
  • Measure progress to MetroFuture PERSONALLY, I REJECT THIS GOAL AS TOO LOW Objectives support each of the goals. They are more specific and largely numeric . Goals describe the MetroFuture vision in general terms . Indicators are tied to as many of the objectives as possible. They are regularly collected data points .
  • Measure progress to MetroFuture Objectives support each of the goals. They are more specific and largely numeric . Goals describe the MetroFuture vision in general terms . Indicators are tied to as many of the objectives as possible. They are regularly collected data points . MetroFuture Goal #14: An increasing share of the housing in each municipality will be affordable to working class families and fixed-income seniors Objective: The region will produce 350,000 new housing units by 2030. Objective: The regional affordability gap will be eliminated by 2030, for households earning 80%, 100%, and 120% of regional median income. Objective: There will be an increasing number of municipalities in which local median housing costs (ownership and rental) are equal to or less than 30% of regional median income. Objective: Ownership housing units with monthly costs less than 30% of regional monthly median income will comprise a growing share of the region’s housing stock. Objective: Rental housing units costing less than 30% of regional median income will comprise a growing share of the region’s housing stock. Objective: There will be 97,000 new starter homes (single-family homes <1,700 square feet; single-family attached; 2-4 family homes) by 2030 Housing cost burden (households paying more than 30% of income on housing)
  • Indicators used in the State of Equity Report
    • Income
    • Poverty rate
    • Segregation measures
    • Low birth weight
    • Asthma rates
    • Attendance at high poverty schools
    • Dropout rates
    • Access to transit
    • Labor force participation
    • Access to open space
    • Many others
  • Ten Most Wanted Datasets
    • Regional Parcel database
    • Regional development database
    • Decennial household travel demand survey
    • Aerial photo surveys and derived land use information
    • Water and sewer infrastructure
    • Region-wide zoning map
    • Local Employment Dynamics program data
    • Demographic summaries of state income tax filings by municipality
    • Statewide permit tracking database
    • Brownfields database
  • Storytelling
  • Overview
    • Goals
      • Objectives
        • Indicators
          • Policy Recommendations
  • How can we improve data collection for indicators research?
    • MetroFuture Implementation Strategy: Democratizing Information
    • Align data collection and policymaking
    • Improve state and local capacity to utilize planning and decision support tools
    • Support State and Regional data intermediaries
    • Build and maintain a strong “information infrastructure
  • Questions?
    • Jamila Henderson, Research Analyst
    • Data Services Department
    • Metropolitan Area Planning Council
    • [email_address]