New Website Pulls Together Data Used To Monitor Health of Northwest Communities

Monday, August 30 2010

MOSCOW, Idaho –The new Indicators Northwest website provides the most up-to-date social and economic data for states, counties, Native American reservations, and tribes for Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

The University of Idaho, with support from the Community Action Partnership headquartered in Lewiston, developed the new website. It provides a publicly available tool to help citizens and officials better understand community trends in the Northwest.

“The Internet has raised expectations about how quickly we find the data needed for grant proposals, following trends, and identifying priority issues in communities,” said Priscilla Salant, the University of Idaho’s coordinator for outreach and engagement.

“If you don’t know where to look, these are daunting tasks. That’s why we developed Indicators Northwest – to provide a one-stop source of information on the region’s communities.”

The user-friendly website is designed for people who don’t have the time or experience to search multiple data sources. The University of Idaho updates Indicators Northwest regularly with new data from a wide variety of federal and state agencies. Users can get a quick summary of major trends, print a profile of characteristics for their county, view graphs, and download data. Indicators include unemployment and wage rates, population by age, poverty rates and health insurance coverage, among others.

“Community Action Partnership is thrilled to continue our relationship with the University of Idaho and our shared goal of working with communities to address the issue of poverty,” said Lisa Stoddard, executive director of Community Action Partnership in Lewiston. “The Indicators Northwest website provides an accessible source of current, accurate information for service providers, leaders and community members to use to inform their work.”

Indicators Northwest gathers data sources that track 47 state and county indicators, 11 reservation indicators and four tribe indicators. Data sources include federal agencies such as Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. Other data sources include state health departments, American Medical Association and the Brookings Institution.

While most of the site’s data can be found online from the original sources, knowing which source to use and then navigating state or federal websites to gather the data is not intuitive for most people.

“Indicators Northwest takes away the roadblocks and makes data easy,” says Christy Dearien, the website’s manager and a research associate at the University of Idaho. “Our target audience includes grant writers, nonprofits, educators, students, local decision-makers and others in the general public. The site is especially important in the region’s small communities where data may be hard to access.”

Indicators Northwest is part of a national movement to give the general public easy access to local data. Better access to up-to-date, unbiased information empowers local residents and leaders to make positive changes in their communities.

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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit