Indicator Explorer FAQ

In order to help our users navigate and understand the Indicator Explorer, we have crafted a list of common questions and answers.

What do the different colors mean on the bubbles?

The colors represent the six endowments of our Human Ecology Framework. This framework is the guiding lens for all our work.

Why are some bubbles bigger than others?

The size represents the number of community indicator projects using that indicator. The bigger the bubble, the more commonly it is used. However, just because an indicator is popular does not mean it is based on academic research.

How many projects are in the indicator database?

There are more than 100 projects included in the database. They cover a variety of topics such as, the general well-being of communities, health care, and environmental sustainability, among many others. They are all measuring a community at the level of the state, county, city, Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), or neighborhood. None are measuring at the level of a country. To read more about our data collection process, see the methodology.

How many indicators are there?

There are more than 3,300 indicators in our database of indicators used to measure the health and well-being of communities. Not all of them are shown on the Indicator Explorer.

How current is the information?

Data collection occurred early 2014 through December 31, 2015, with the majority of work happening between July 1 and December 31, 2015.

Will there be new iterations of the Indicator Explorer?

Yes! We plan on continuing to improve the Explorer. In fact, we are already beginning to work on new updates that will improve both the functionality and design of it. At the same time, we will begin incorporating our research on Human Ecology Pathways.

Where can I find the actual data that corresponds with the indicator?

Currently, the Indicator Explorer does not contain the information. However, other versions will contain links to various data sources. We are working with different data partners to make that happen.

I don’t see 3,300 bubbles on the explorer. Why not?

There are two reasons for that:

  1. Of the more than 3,300 indicators 72 percent, or more than 2,300, only appear in one project. These unique indicators were not rendered on the explorer.

  2. For the remaining indicators, we grouped similar ones together to show the popularity of an idea. For example, some projects track the percent of children who are below expectation on 3rd grade reading while others track the percent of children exceeding 3rd grade reading expectations. These measure the same idea of 3rd grade reading.

Where did the academic research rating come from?

We asked a handful of experts in various fields—public health, education, social safety net, environmental health, criminal justice, etc.—to provide leading research in their field about each set of indicators along with the academic research rating. For more about the rating, see the description here.

How do I add research or correct something that is wrong?

Contact us! Let us know about any research that we may have missed.

Can I get a list of all the indicators in a specific category?

Contact us! It never hurts to ask.

What else does Thriving Cities do?

We are working in several communities across the country. Click here to find out more about us.