January 8, 2015 | Featured, Issues

Our final community meeting to help develop our equality indicators was a success. Many of the same people and organizations who were at our first meeting were also at this final meeting.

We brainstormed with community members different groups that will find these indicators useful and how they could use them. Community members suggested that the indicators might be useful in different ways to businesses, people in public education, health care providers, and the media.

They also suggested useful ways we might be able to share the data including a specific website, disaggregating the data, and customizable graphics. These are all ideas we’re considering as we move forward with the project and think about how to share data once we’ve got it.

Where we are now

At this point, with community input we have refined the thematic areas we are focusing on and the subthemes within those areas:

Equality themes and subthemes

We have also refined the list of groups of people who might be particularly likely to experience inequality in NYC:

  • People living in poverty
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • People with physical and/or intellectual disability
  • People with mental illness
  • Women
  • Children and adolescents
  • Elderly
  • People not proficient in English
  • Veterans
  • Single parents and members of non-traditional families
  • Religious minorities
  • Immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers
  • People involved (or formerly involved) with the criminal justice system
  • People living in neighborhoods with environmental vulnerabilities
  • Domestic violence victims
  • Victims of other crimes

Next steps: Identifying specific indicators

We are currently working on developing an initial list of potential indicators within each subtheme. An example indicator might be the ratio between the unemployment rate for blacks versus white or percent of subway stations that are wheelchair accessible.

We’ll develop indicators for each of the subthemes listed above based on suggestions we received at the community meetings and from other academic and policy experts; other existing indicator tools; research on inequality in NYC and nationwide; and discussions with city government and the Rockefeller Foundation.

In our selection of indicators, we’re looking to see whether we could reasonably expect to get yearly access to the data we would need, whether the indicators cover a range of issues within a subtheme, and whether we are representing multiple groups within each subtheme. We’re also considering whether the indicators will tell us what we want to know about inequality. For example, we would not want to use crime reports as an indicator, since we would not know whether an increase would indicate more crimes or a greater willingness to report crimes to the police.

Each indicator will focus on measuring the extent to which one of the identified vulnerable groups experiences inequality in that particular area. Although we would like to be able to look at multiple vulnerable groups across all the indicators, if we have 100 indicators and we looked at 10 groups for each, that would be the equivalent of 1,000 indicators. That said, we will collect data on multiple groups and make that available wherever possible, even if we cannot use that data to inform a specific indicator score.

Piloting Indicators

Our pilot will help us to select our final list of indicators. We’ll be collecting administrative data from government agencies, nonprofits, the private sector, and academia. We’ll be looking for data that is already collected or could be collected as part of already-existing data collection practices, in addition to investigating new data collection efforts. We will also survey a random selection of New York City residents.

Finalizing Indicators

Based on what we learn from the pilot, we will make revisions and share what we’ve learned. We anticipate sharing our findings and our finalized framework and indicators by summer 2015.