Gauging civic wellbeing

Santa Monica Pier (Photo: Maëlick)
Santa Monica Pier (Photo: Maëlick)

There’s been much emphasis on the smart city, using data to analyze efficiency and manage sensory understanding of infrastructure, but we continue to see an evolution of emotional intelligence coming from government, from Louisville’s Compassionate City Campaign to San Francisco’s emphasis on delight, and now Santa Monica’s The Wellbeing Project, an index that takes into account health, place, community, learning and economic opportunity.

According to its site, The Wellbeing Project will “harness the power of data to provide a shared understanding of our community’s strengths and needs, encouraging collaboration among city leaders, local organizations, and residents to improve our collective wellbeing.”

Supported by a $1,000,000 grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the city developed a Wellbeing Index and released a report of its findings this past April.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we’ll continue to see public sector innovators focus on the emotional intelligence aspects of cities and how measuring this is critical to civic wellbeing, especially as data-driven frameworks mature.

Santa Monica Human Services Manager Julie Rusk in Fast Company:

“One of the things that we were really attempting to do is go beyond the traditional ways that governments use data, like miles of bike lanes, trees per acre, or crime rates … These are things we know are important, but what we wanted to do is take some of that data and combine it with surveys and social media to really understand how people are experiencing their lives.”

Mayor Kevin McKeown in a prepared statement announcing the release:

“By applying the science of wellbeing to local governance, we are looking far beyond the standard economic performance measurements, and creating a more complete and meaningful understanding of our community … In pioneering this innovation, we can more effectively improve the life experiences of our own residents, using an unprecedented level of data-driven knowledge about wellbeing to shape public policy.”

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About Luke Fretwell

Luke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He is also co-founder and CEO of ProudCity. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or email at luke@govfresh.com.

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