WHY A COMMUNITY SCAN?
The intent is to develop a powerful community snapshot distilled from historical data, current indicators and stakeholder perceptions that will provide an understanding based on both the issues and the perspectives that exist within the community.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Generally a Community Scan is done by analyzing secondary data related to the demographics of a community, gathering perceptions of the people who live, work, and play in the community, as well as past/present comparisons. It depicts how the community is functioning on a variety of levels, and identifies both assets and challenges, thereby setting the stage for discussion, decision-making and visioning.
Once priorities and future thinking takes place, new strategies can be developed with different starting assumptions based of the synthesis of this initial research.
1. A Research Committee collects community data from a variety of indicator sources: e.g. crime data from police or court records; labour market, economic, population and social health data from real estate boards, social service agencies and public health departments; provincial and municipal governments; chambers of commerce, public records and so on. The most effective presentations compare current data with historical (baseline) data to demonstrate either annual fluctuations, changes over time and/or local trends.
2. At the same time, the Research Committee solicits citizens' input regarding their perceptions of the community's assets and challenges, and surveys stakeholders for their perspective on the community's health, strengths and weaknesses. Survey findings are combined with stakeholder perceptions, and also compared with secondary research findings to identify occurrences of common understanding, misperceptions and areas for potential action planning focus.
Sample Community Indicators: secondary and post-secondary graduation rates; affordability of single-family homes; crime rate; cost of 1,000 KWH electricity; public transit ridership; per-capita Kg solid waste; curb recycling program rates; public library stats; infant death rate; taxable real estate values; unemployment rate; business and personal bankruptcy rates, etc. (Research Committee should not only establish a broad spectrum of criteria to measure quality of life, but also a mechanism to compare annual rate of change for each item.)