Yes, over 1,000 communities around the world have undertaken indicator initiatives. The very first indicator project, Quality of Life in Jacksonville: Indicators for Progress, was started over 20 years ago in Jacksonville, Fla. Indicator projects have been established in large regions like Southern California (population 17.1 million) and in small ones like Burlington, Vt. (population 39,000). Some notable examples include Boston, Mass., Spartanburg, S.C., and Toronto and Ottawa, Canada.
ACT Rochester began as a joint venture of Rochester Area Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Rochester. A task force, comprised of board members from both organizations, guided its development. Funding was also provided by the Gannett Foundation and the Center for Governmental Research, Fund for the Public Interest. CGR provided most of the data and analysis. In addition, more than 100 members of the community participated in meetings to help select appropriate indicators. In 2012, ACT Rochester became an intiative of Rochester Area Community Foundation.
A region generally refers to a central city and the surrounding areas that support that city and are supported by it. Sometimes this is thought of as an economic region or market area. Definitions of the Rochester region range from a single county (Monroe) to a larger area of up to 10 counties. For this project, we have selected a nine-county region: Monroe, the five adjacent counties, along with Seneca, Wyoming and Yates counties. The ACT region, then, includes the following counties: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates. In 2017, ACT Rochester added data for the three other cities in the Finger Lakes region besides Rochester – Batavia, Canandaigua and Geneva. Most indicators have data for this nine-county region and its four cities. However, in some instances, data is not available for all areas.
An indicator is a measure that helps to describe an economic, environmental, social or cultural condition over time. An indicator is usually expressed as a rate or percent, such as the infant mortality rate or the unemployment rate.
We used a two-step process to select the indicators. First we convened 12 community meetings to identify indicators in each topic area. More than 100 people contributed their thoughts and produced a list that exceeded 280 indicators. Then we asked the Center for Governmental Research (CGR) to pare down the list based on its knowledge of available data sources. In the end, we chose 113 indicators that had many years of data at a county level, a consistent definition over time and a source whose data collection process we thought was reliable.
The Center for Governmental Research suggests that the criteria include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:
In addition, only indicators that provide community-wide data related to outcomes should be considered for inclusion; for example, data pertaining only to individual agencies or programs, and that could not be collected and analyzed for the larger community, should not be considered for inclusion.
Much of the data comes from existing sources, such as the U.S. Census, public health agencies, police records, tax assessment rolls and community surveys. Whenever possible, we used New York state sources for data rather than data from local sources to ensure consistent definitions and to enable reliable comparisons across counties. You can find the data source for each indicator on the data table and charts provided for that indicator. Raw numbers were converted to rates and dollars were adjusted for inflation to provide a reasonable basis for comparisons.
In gathering data for ACT Rochester, we try to balance a desire for accuracy, completeness and timeliness. These objectives were sometimes at odds. For example, the media might report on a variety of valuable statistics on population and housing based on results from the American Community Survey (ACS). This survey, while timely, is based on a small sample of the United States population rather than a full count and is therefore subject to sampling error. In some cases, we are comfortable that the margin of error in these statistics is good enough to report; in other cases, we provide data from the older 2010 Census, which was based on a full count of the population and in which we have greater confidence. In addition, data from the ACS is sometimes only available for geographic areas with a population of 65,000. Thus it could not be used to gather data on the counties of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans or Wyoming, whose populations fall below 65,000.
We intend to provide the Rochester community with the most timely information available annually. The American Community Survey allows smaller communities (less than 20,000) to have reliable, up-to-date information on a range of demographic, economic, housing and social questions. However, information on subgroups of the population in these communities may still be limited by the sampling methodology.
Yes, we expect to include targets in the future. We envision the process of target-setting as one which involves the community.
"A Glossary of Terms" is included in the "Using the Site" section of this website.
As ACT Rochester grows, this additional feature will be evaluated for inclusion.
Yes, please contact us by clicking on the "Contact Us" tab at the top of the page.
Yes. Engaging the community is a central priority of ACT Rochester.