Community Counts

Here’s a humdinger of an idea that I’ve been meaning to share.  In a previous role with the Nova Scotia Department of Justice, I had the opportunity to work on a project called Nova Scotia Community Counts.  At its core, Nova Scotia Community Counts is an innovative way to collect and disseminate statistical data about Nova Scotian communities at a variety of geographic levels: community, municipality, police district, health authority, etc.  Data is then presented along a number of indicators: households, income, social, resources, etc.

For an example, click here.  Then in the select Geographic View drop-down click Health; then in the Geographic Level drop-down click District Health Authority. The site should default to Annapolis Valley Health. Below you will see eight tabs, the first of which is Demographics: click on Ethnic Origin.  A table should appear.  Here you can see that according to the 2006 census, 15% of the population within this particular authority/region reported to be of German ancestry.

Next, Community Counts has a crime prevention and reduction policy view.  You find it on the banner on left about half of the way down the page.  Click on it.  You’ll see two buttons in the centre of the page. Click on View the Crime Prevention and Reduction Profiles.  Here you can mess around with the different geographic views and levels.   When you do, all sorts of interactive data/graphs appear.  What is extra neat about the policy view is that you can access risk factors for each geographic view/level in a comparative manner.  Go ahead, click on the Risk Factors tab; I dare you.

And last but not least there is the Map Centre, again, located on the banner on the left (the link is purple).  Just for kicks, select County in the drop-down menu and click search.  A page will appear with all sorts of goodies on it. But here’s the kicker, on left you should see a menu titled Available Assets and, under that, a list of seven options: cultural, educational, social, health, infrastructure, and social economic. Under each one of those selections are further options too numerous to list.  The point: start opening menus and selecting assets. Voila, the selected assets will appear on the map.

Ok, here’s the deal.  The volume of resources that is required to develop and maintain such a site is tremendous, I know.  But I would love to be able to get something like this going for Regina and Saskatchewan.  Pipe dream: probably, but if it did happen the possibilities would be endless.

For instance, you could build into the site a service delivery/program generator. The site could be programmed to interpret the data, variables, assets, etc. for a given region and then identify where gaps in service delivery exist. For example, the site could tell us that in Yorkton there exists a lack of services for youth, and given that there is a high crime rate (say vandalism via “graffiti”, among youth ages 12-15) perhaps developing an urban street art program for youth in said age range would be beneficial (this example is 100% fabricated. I have no idea what’s going on in Yorkton).  The site would then generate a list of programming options, best practices, outcomes and how to measure them, etc.

I think it’s all very exciting.

Ps. Nova Scotia Community Counts is modeled after Newfoundland’s Community Accounts. Newfoundland has been playing this game for years, and they’re really good at it. See for yourself: Community Accounts To my knowledge, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are the only two provinces with such sites.  Maybe Saskatchewan can be next?

Community Counts

One thought on “Community Counts

  1. This is an amazing tool! Ideas like this are exactly the type of stuff that was being talked about at the Urban Next Summit last week.

    It would be interesting to start assembling this type of database here – no doubt there is a lot of available data that could be put together and researchers at the U of R and U of S would be all over this!

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