The central Texas sustainability indicators project
Sustainability indicator is quantified information that enables an organization measure changes that are taking place over time and provide a way forward (Sustainable measures, 2010). Sustainability indicators are different from typical urban indicators in that they provide information that is more detailed on how each change affects the community, economy and environment. Since typical urban indicators measure the changes in context to one part, rather than on how they depend on the environment, society and economy.
The sustainability indicator program that was chosen is that of central Texas. This provides data and an analysis of how environmental, nature of society and economic healths from the region depend on each other. The sustainability indicator program serves five counties that form central Texas. They include Bastrop county, Caldwell county, hays county, Travis county and Williamson counties. The program contains data and analysis on how to improve the social and economic welfare of the region based on the past perception. The programs provide a platform for the county leaders to engage the community in contributing to the well being of the society. They achieve this through the indicators, which demonstrate the relationship that exist between the many factors affecting the region stability. The program takes into account changes in education, health, public safety and household incomes. In addition, environmental and resources, availability like land use, availability of quality water and air in the region is discussed in this sustainability indicator program (Central Texas Sustainability Indicators project, 2006).
The indicators used depended on the factor being tackled. Under public safety factor, the indicators used were community safety, safe families and equity in law enforcement. They chose these particular indicators based on statistics that existed on the rate of violent and domestic crime, which resulted to the people of Texas, feeling unsafe in their neighborhoods. Statistics on the rate of domestic, adult and child abuse was the reason why they chose safe families as an indicator. In addition, the need for equal opportunity for all residents in education, justice and economic growth regardless of race was the reason this equity factor was included. The second factor is education with the indicators being childcare access, childcare quality, schools quality, schools academic performance, schools equity in education, and higher learning. These indicators were chosen because they affect the society, environment and economic growth in that when people are learned the level of crime will go down, and access to jobs and health services will increase.
The third factor is social; equity with indicators being cost of living, affordable housing to the owner and renter, access to home loans, English proficiency, diversity of leadership and race relations. These indicators were chosen because the inequality in society determines household incomes, the rate of crime in the area, the house a person lives in and the environment. The fourth factor is economy indicators are household income, diversity in industries and employees, exporting industries, labor availability, entrepreneurship and technology innovation. These indicators were chosen because each one of them affects the expenditure of families in deciding where to live, the house to rent, where to obtain capital to start a business and the delinquency level of teenagers. The fifth factor is health with indicators as health insurance coverage, physical and mental health status. These indicators reveal how economic power determines whether a family has access to a health cover or not. In addition, the growth of the region’s economy and well-being relies on the people being healthy to work and contribute their intellect to developing new technology.
The sixth factor is environment and its indicators are water consumption, water quality, energy use, solid waste and hazardous materials and air quality. These indicators are vital in curbing environmental diseases, ensuring that the pollution is minimized from industries, no toxic waste is released into the air and water causing harm to the residents, and that all residents use proper fuel. The seventh factor is land use and mobility indicated by density of new development, population distribution in rural land, public open space, attractiveness of landscape, commuting, vehicle miles traveled and traffic volume. These indicators reveal the economic power of the residents the more the traffic the more people have money to spend on cars, how the environment is and availability of land. In addition, how land is used affects the quality of water, air and pollution in the environment. The eighth factor is engagement indicated by philanthropy and volunteerism, participation in the arts, neighborliness and civic participation. These factors are chosen since they determine the level of how the residents socialize with each other and how they assist during a crisis. Through volunteering, the residents can stop the youths from engaging in crime, which will decrease the rate of crime and increase safety. When residents care for each other in their neighborhoods, it will create moral responsibility and assist in raising issues that affect them through peaceful demonstrations.
The effectiveness of these indicators chosen for central Texas would be evaluated according to how much the residents are willing to co-operate with the municipal government and the other stakeholders in implementing them. The people should be willing to change their perceptions and accept the new changes that will be introduced. The awareness that the municipal government and other stakeholders will generate they have introduced a policy regarding any of the indicators will determine its effectiveness. For example if the banks make it easy for residents to access home loans, the number of people who access this service depends on the awareness level of the residents. The good will of the residents will ensure that these indicators work. For example, if an organization starts a rehabilitation centre to counsel youths from developing delinquency behavior, the residents’ willingness to volunteer and contribute their money to the organization will assist in the success of the centre. Another way to evaluate the effectiveness of his indicators is to record data and compare it with the previous data to determine whether any progress is being made (Swisher, Rezola and Sterns).
On public safety, they should include witness protection as an indicator because residents do not report crimes, child domestic and adult abuse nor testify in criminal cases due to fear that leads to criminals going free. This would make the police and justice departments come up with ways and measures to protect residents when they report and testify against criminals. This would ensure that criminals are sentenced and locked up reducing crime in the society. In the economy section, they should include technology use as an indicator to determine how many people have access to the technology available in the market. In the health section, disability should be indicated in order to establish how many residents have access to specialized treatment. In addition, this indicator would assist hospitals establish special care to people with disabilities.
Central Texas Sustainability Indicators project. 2006 Biennial data report. Centex-indicators.org, 2006. Web. February 16, 2012.
Sustainable measures. What is an indicator of sustainability?. Sustainablemeasures.com, 2010. Web. February 16, 2012.
Swisher, M., E., Rezola Sandra and Sterns James. Sustainable Community Development Step 6: Carry Out Projects and Monitor, Evaluate and Make Adjustments as Needed. University of Florida, 2009. Web. February 16, 2012.