You get what you measure. Measure the wrong thing and you get the wrong behaviors
– John H. Lingle
The Peg community indicators system was developed to measure the well-being and community vitality of the City of Winnipeg. The name was selected for its dual meaning, being a common local term for Winnipeg and also referring to ‘pegging’ the specifics of and solutions to community monitoring. Peg categorizes community indicators into eight themes – basic needs, health, economy, natural environment, built environment, governance, education and learning, and social vitality. The system also identifies an additional category of poverty as being a cross-cutting issue that spans across the other themes. Its online user-interface allows a user to explore indicators in each of the themes and access related data and information. Data can also be accessed through an interactive map tool that provides geographical referencing and context to the information. In addition, Peg contains a ‘stories’ section that provides personal accounts of Winnipeg locals’ experiences with the indicators, that uses narratives as a method of providing greater meaning to abstract data (Avraamidou & Osborne, 2009).
The concept for a Winnipeg-based community indicators system began to coalesce in the late-1990s when the local United Way conducted a community engagement process entitled Journey Forward that examined key social issues in the community (United Way of Winnipeg, 2000). This process prompted considerations and questions about the key social issues in Winnipeg and how they be identified and addressed. The outcome of these considerations and questions was an agreement on the necessity to develop a community indicator system that effectively and comprehensively tracks the well-being of Winnipeg residents. In 2003, the United Way approached the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) to discuss working together in developing a system for Winnipeg, and the two organizations subsequently have led the development process over the last decade.
In order to ensure the community indicators system accurately represents the comprehensive needs and interests of Winnipeg at-large, the United Way and IISD developed Peg through a highly inclusive and participatory process. Peg’s development has involved the input of all sectors of the community contributing to the project in various capacities, including guidance and direction on Peg’s development, involvement in the indicator selection process, advising on community engagement and public relations, technical expertise, and assisting in obtaining data and relevant information.
The United Way and IISD conducted a ‘soft launch’ of Peg in 2010, marked by a presentation to the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council (WPRC, 2010). Currently, a beta version of the Peg website (mypeg.ca) is publicly accessible, and the United Way and IISD plan to launch the official, complete Peg system in early December 2013. Their long-term goal is that PEG will become fully integrated into the City of Winnipeg’s infrastructure as a system for measuring community performance and vitality, educating the public on the issues facing Winnipeg, and informing effective and comprehensive local decision-making…
This article was first published in 2013 by Rob Newell and Ann Dale in Interactive Case Studies in Sustainable Community Development.