Social Indicators

While it is essential to have high quality qualitative watershed data for effective targeting, a major component of targeting, in accordance with Nowak’s Disproportionality Framework, is also addressing behavioral components of land and water management that lead to high pollutant loads. From this need to better understand how people’s choices and behaviors link to NPS program effectiveness the Great Lakes Initiative’s Social Indicators for NPS Management emerged. The program seeks to inventory and monitor awareness, constraints, capacity, and behaviors that over time should lead to water quality protection and improvement. Because many water quality improvement projects seek to achieve water quality goals that may not be immediately tangible, monitoring these social indicators provide an alternative and complimentary means of understanding the extent to which watershed programs are effectively building long-term social capacity for continual improvement.

The social indicators project provides a framework through which watershed planners can implement their own evaluative process of monitoring social indicators on their own project. The project has developed two support tools: the Social Indicators Planning and Evaluation System (SIPES) and a supporting interactive mapping interface, the Social Indicators Data Management and Analysis tool (SIDMA). Together, these tools enable users to develop surveys for their own projects, map them, and perform analysis. For more information, visit their website, or access SIDMA directly. 

Please click here to see a PDF version of the core indicators for the project, available through the Great Lakes Regional Water Program.