First phase of rural wellbeing project complete

The Rural Ontario Institute has announced the completion of Phase 1 of the Rural Community Wellbeing Project.

The goal of the project is to help rural communities assess and interpret their wellbeing within their local context by improving access to community data.

ROI System Data Analyst Danielle Letang explains the indicators that they use are grouped into seven broad categories.

“So there’s economic indicators, environmental indicators, there’s health, housing institutional, population and society indicators,” she said. “So it’s meant to be a big picture of all the different components of community wellbeing.”

Letang says it provides communities with a better understanding of each of those themes and how their community is doing in each of those areas.

The end goal will be a dashboard that features these indicators and related data, allowing communities to be able to compare themselves to their neighbours or whatever else they feel might be relevant comparatives.

“So this is one of the things we’re looking for input for communities from and trying to find out what sorts of comparisons would be helpful,” said Letang. “So if they’re a rural community do they want to compare themselves to other rural communities, do they want to contract their situation with an urban area, for example.”

She adds that communities have expressed interest in comparing things like public health districts or agricultural regions. Letang says the assumption for some people is that all rural communities are the same but she says there can be significant diversification in communities within the same category.

The summary report for the first phase of the wellbeing project is available on the ROI website.

Phase 2 of the project will commence in June 2023 and is focused on improving the pilot dashboard, expanding indicator selection, identifying data sources, and engaging with communities to mobilize knowledge.

During Phase 2 of the project the Rural Ontario Institute is seeking rural Data Champions to help ensure the final product is as useful as possible. Interested communities or organizations wishing to take part in the project are encouraged to visit the Rural Community Wellbeing project page for more information.

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