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When developing a new program or allocating funding, we can use data to guide our decisions and better target our limited resources. For the City of Madison, we have a lot of timely data but it’s often available only at geographies much larger than the city or its neighborhoods. What we want is something timely and at the right geography to let us know what Madison's neighborhoods are like and how they're doing.

Indicators as a tool. The Neighborhood Indicators Project is a demonstration of key characteristics and various indicators that relate to the quality of life in Madison at the neighborhood level. The goal of the Neighborhood Indicators Project is to:

  • Give us a better understanding of our neighborhoods;
  • Help us tailor solutions to a neighborhood's particular needs or characteristics;
  • Over time, help us see emerging trends; and
  • Give us early warning signs of stress so that problems can be addressed quickly, effectively and less expensively.

Indicators are not a substitute for local knowledge or the personal experiences of residents, but they will provide us with a more comprehensive view of our neighborhoods. They can help us make data-driven decisions about service delivery. They can provide us with a first-scan for deeper issues, show where to drill down for additional information and flag where to investigate causes. All of this information can become part of our considerations to increase or reallocate funding for programs or pursue new policies.

Public input. Our roster of indicators was developed with over a year of public input that started with the 2006 Neighborhood Conference. The pilot was also featured at the Mayor's Neighborhood Roundtable in 2007 and 2008 and during sessions with the Northside Planning Council, East Isthmus Neighborhoods Planning Council, South Metropolitan Planning Council and Neighborhood Resource Teams. Input from alders and department and division heads was gleaned during project overviews and progress reports. The pilot was presented to several of the Council's standing committees including Public Safety Review Committee, Board of Education-Common Council Liaison Committee, Housing Committee, Community Services Commission, and Community Development Block Grant Commission. The Madison Metropolitan School District offered guidance on which indicators it felt were most relevant. During each of these sessions, suggestions and recommendations were recorded and considered by a work group of City managers and staff for inclusion.

Privacy and confidentiality. Neighborhood Indicators will be a useful tool, but we have to balance this desire with the need to ensure confidentiality and privacy for the residents living in our neighborhoods. Accordingly, some neighborhood associations may not be listed because they are too small. In other instances, individual indicators may identify so few or so many people that you would know that everybody living in that neighborhood has certain characteristics. To ensure their privacy, these too have not been added to the neighborhood profiles.

The goal of the Neighborhood Indicators Project is to be a useful tool for City staff, citizen committees and members of the general public. Feedback from users like you will help refine and improve the package for years to come.

You can share your thoughts by clicking here to send an note to both City and APL contacts or by sending an email directly to either or

Data Disclaimer. Neighborhood Indicator Project data sets are provided by the UW Applied Population Laboratory (APL) for informational purposes. The Applied Population Laboratory expressly disclaims the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of any data and shall not be liable for any errors, omissions or other defects in, delays or interruptions in such data, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Neither the APL nor any of its data providers will be liable for any damages relating to use of the data provided herein.