In 2007, Arizona Indicators a project managed by Morrison Institute for Public Policy, began in the Office of the President at Arizona State University with the support of a number of community partners. The initiative grew out of the desire for a central resource for data and insights to help support policy making and public awareness of the state’s competitiveness and other issues. Today, Arizona Indicators remains a community partnership with sponsorship by Arizona State University and Arizona Community Foundation, Valley of the Sun United Way, The Arizona Republic, and Arizona Department of Commerce. Organized in 11 broad content areas, Arizona Indicators presents interactive data visualizations and mapping tools, public opinion data, and timely policy analysis.
Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC), at the request of the ASU President’s office, has been contributing to the Sustainability indicators since the inception of the project. These indicators currently are housed in four categories: Air Quality, Water Quality, Urban Heat Island, and Energy. DCDC also now contributes to the three sustainability-related indicator categories on the Transportation tab, Travel Time and Congestion, Commuters’ Mode of Travel, and Public Transportation. Data for these indicators are collected from various public sources and are presented in a way that makes them accessible to the general public.
In addition, DCDC staff continue to contribute various publications regarding the sustainability indicators. These publications are posted on the Arizona Indicators website and include:
- How Will the Current Drought Affect Our Future Water Supply (2012) Volume 4, Issue 2. Author: Sally Wittlinger, DCDC research analyst.
- The Urban Heat Island: Jeopardizing the Sustainability of Phoenix, Policy Points (2011) Volume 3, Issue 3. Author: Sally Wittlinger, DCDC research analyst.
- Trends in Sustainability: The Urban Heat Island, Decades (2010) Volume 1, Issue 10> Author: Sally Wittlinger, DCDC research analyst.
- Sustainability-An Expert’s Insight on the Issue in Arizona, Indicator Insight (2009) Volume 1, Issue 2. Author: Sally Wittlinger, DCDC research analyst.
Contributing to the Arizona Indicators is one of the many ways that DCDC provides outreach to the community. A sustainable society works to balance the needs of the economy, the environment, and society. This means considering how our use of land, water, energy, and atmosphere can protect the quality of life, livability, and prosperity across all segments of society and for future generations. This is the basic tenant of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability, of which DCDC is an integral part. The sustainability indicators provide information that help to make policy makers and the public more aware of trends in those things that influence the sustainability of Arizona.
Indicators are measurements that describe conditions, simplify complex data, measure progress, and chart trends over time. Indicators are objective and policy neutral, presenting facts and descriptions rather than explanations. By answering “what,” quality indicators prompt people to question “why.” This can lead to improved analysis, accountability, and policy change.