About Community Data
The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute’s Demography Utah team is building an information system and research program that will enable us to uncover insights into our changing communities and to provide topical analyses on underlying trends. We are in the midst of a great demographic, economic, and cultural transformation, and this increasing complexity and diversity varies dramatically by neighborhood and community. The greater need for understanding trends at small-area geographies is coupled with an irreversible dearth of detailed neighborhood-level data from national sources due to the loss of the U.S. Census long form. While many states and communities throughout the nation have programs similar to what we are building, no such system currently exists in Utah. Community data from Demography Utah, previously known as the Utah Community Data Project, will fill this void.
Although this will be a significant advance for Utah, it is not sufficient. We will continue to work with community partners to design and implement a suite of community indicators that will better inform strategic planning processes as well as program performance evaluations. Our work program includes demographic metrics as well as community indicators tracking economic stability, educational equity, health disparities, affordable housing opportunities, and other quantifiable measures. These types of community indicators are necessary in order to identify and evaluate the effectiveness of community investments. In addition, federal and other funding increasingly requires data-driven justifications and validation. Therefore, the existence of current, high-quality community indicators will result in higher success rates for funding applicants.
In order for this model to work, we obviously need funding to design, build, maintain, and expand the system. While we have secured some start-up funding, our progress will be much more rapid with additional resources. Our initial funding has been through a HUD Sustainable Communities Grant, the central administration at the University of Utah, and the David Eccles School of Business. We continue to seek funding partners to accelerate our progress.