Did you know there's an online dashboard tool that provides consistent, reliable, up-to-date information about Charlotte, other surrounding cities within the county, and the neighborhoods within them? Yep! It exists!
The Quality of Life Explorer has been around for a decade, but the roots of studying and monitoring quality of life indicators in Charlotte actually go back 25 years.
But first, what is the Quality of Life Explorer? The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Quality of Life Explorer is a valuable tool that provides comprehensive data and information about the quality of life in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina. Its importance lies in several key areas:
1. Informed decision-making: The Quality of Life Explorer allows policymakers, urban planners, community organizations, and other stakeholders to access and analyze data on various quality of life indicators, such as housing affordability, education, health, transportation, and more. This data-driven approach enables evidence-based decision-making, helping stakeholders to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the community, identify areas that need improvement, and make informed decisions on policies, programs, and resource allocation to enhance the overall quality of life for residents.
2. Community engagement: The Quality of Life Explorer fosters community engagement by making data accessible to the public. It allows residents to explore and understand the social, economic, and environmental factors that impact their daily lives. This empowers residents to be actively involved in local decision-making processes, advocate for their needs, and participate in initiatives aimed at improving their quality of life.
3. Equity and inclusivity: The Quality of Life Explorer helps identify disparities and inequalities in different areas of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, such as access to education, healthcare, transportation, and other essential services. By highlighting these disparities, the tool can facilitate conversations around equity and inclusivity, and support efforts to address systemic issues and promote fairness and social justice.
4. Data-driven planning and policy development: The Quality of Life Explorer provides reliable data and insights that can inform the development of long-term plans, policies, and strategies for Charlotte-Mecklenburg. It supports evidence-based approaches to addressing community needs, setting priorities, and allocating resources effectively.
5. Collaboration and partnerships: The Quality of Life Explorer serves as a platform for collaboration among various stakeholders, including government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, and community organizations. It can facilitate data sharing, coordination, and partnerships among these entities, leading to more effective and efficient efforts to improve quality of life in the community.
According to Andrew Bowen, City of Charlotte, "This tool has simplified the City’s ability to answer questions related to operations and community outcomes in given areas. Gone (mostly) are the days of sending an email to dozens of program managers and data folks asking for spreadsheets about work orders, crime rates, and housing developments; now, we can answer many questions at the click of a button."
The partnership between the City, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, and Mecklenburg County accomplished this over the last ten years with dedication to consistency and to our data partners. The Quality of Life Explorer includes curating both publicly available data through the Census Bureau as well as local data partners through the Charlotte Regional Data Trust.
Read more about the current impact of this tool and how it will be used to solve some of the region's most pressing issues over the next decade here.
And learn more about the early stages of this work with the City Within a City assessments dating back to 1993 and how the tool came about here. Long-time Charlotte residents will notice some familiar neighborhood names on the graphic below... some of which no longer exist.
Until next week!
"The Quality of Life Explorer: Big Value for Local Government," by Andrew Bowen, City of Charlotte; published by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.
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“History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” - James Baldwin