Governments around the world are starting to recognize that economic growth alone does not determine a community’s success. True measures of progress take into account the wellbeing of people. Do they feel empowered to make change? Are they happy, healthy, and connected to the community? Are they able access lifelong learning? Or clean air? Without these measures, governments are challenged to manage for better results.
Santa Monica is doing something never before done by a city in the United States. It has defined the factors that contribute to wellbeing – personal outlook, environment/place, health, economic opportunity, learning and community connectedness – and is comprehensively measuring how its citizens and communities fare on these indicators. From there, the city is aligning resources, programs and policies to drive improvements.
In April of 2015, Santa Monica released its initial Wellbeing Index findings. These early results shaped the goals for the biennial City budget adopted in June of 2015. These findings also galvanized the creation of new initiatives which are being pursued in areas such as civic engagement, transportation, access to healthy food, and more. The City is in the process of developing the Index 2.0, which will include more robust data from city departments and an analysis of nearly 48 million social media posts to help determine the socio-economic factors that affect citizen’s opinions of their local government.