Why do a quality of life index?
In the fall of 2005, the Cochise Community Foundation approached Cochise College and the Cochise County Board of Supervisors with an idea of creating a Quality of Life Index for Cochise County. Other parts of the country have found that organizing information this way helps to identify emerging issues and community preferences for public investment. It can provide local leaders with a shared base of information to address those matters of greatest importance to residents.
For many community leaders, the challenge is how to know what issues are important to the community. Are we making a difference with a given program or initiative? Are we “moving the needle”? How do we know what works? How does the community know?
What is the quality of life index?
The Quality of Life Index is a way of looking at a lot of issues – education, the environment, arts and culture, the economy, crime, healthcare, among others – and saying, this is what is really important to me. The Index adds up all these preferences using valid statistical tools to say: this is what is really important to the residents of Cochise County.
The second part of the Index is to measure each area so we can determine change. The one thing we all can be sure of is that indicators may go up or down, but they will not stay the same. We want to be able to measure how things change over time. The Quality of Life Index gives us a framework to do that.
How was the index developed?
The Project partners are Cochise College, Cochise County and the Cochise Community Foundation. In early 2006, these organizations invited community leaders with a wide range of expertise to help develop the Index. For a list of Steering Committee members, click here. They have initially identified what needed to be measured, how to measure it and to identify data sources when information was not readily available.
Project management responsibilities have been shared among the three project partners as follows:
Project Management: Cochise Community Foundation
Survey Instrument & Data Analysis: Cochise College Center for Economic Research
Meeting Logistics & Website: Cochise County
The project followed this timeline:
|4th Quarter 2005
||Participation in QOL project by Foundation, College and County
|1st Quarter 2006
||Steering Committee established. Project outline and timeline approved. Discussion: what to measure and how to measure it.
||Work began on survey instrument and model. Format for indicator analyses approved. Data collection and analysis of indicators began.
|3rd Quarter 2006
||Survey results presented to Steering Committee. 12 indicator analyses reviewed by project partners, outside reviewers and Steering Committee. Website layout and content drafted. Project Summary (one pager) circulated for approval.
||QOL Model completed. Balance of indicators written, reviewed and approved for release by the Steering Committee. Content for Website and Project Summary completed. Outreach into the community began.