January 2017 Update: Take a short 2-minute video tour of the Sustainability Dashboard. If you like what you see, schedule a free demo.
In my nearly two decades of work on sustainability programs with local governments, three of the words I hear most often are "transparency," "accountability," and "engagement." Cities need to be open about how tax dollars are being spent; they need to track and report on progress towards commitments; and they need to engage the community in a meaningful way. Cities accomplish this in a variety of ways from public community meetings to publishing reports to inviting community representation on task forces.
In recent years, sustainability has shifted from a nebulous topic to one that is firmly grounded in data and metrics and is tracked over time. This was a necessary shift and one that has become a catalyst for cities shifting to more online engagement through sustainability dashboards. These dashboards represent in numbers and often graphs a set of metrics and goals for a series of focus areas from climate and energy to solid waste, public health, and natural resources.
But not all dashboards are created equal.
First you have to ask yourself- are you meeting the intent of transparency, accountability, and engagement by simply throwing a number and unit of measure on your website? For something to be transparent it must be obvious and readily understood; accountable is an obligation to explain or justify something; and to engage is to hold one’s attention. When you think about these priorities from the core of their meaning, it is easy to see why many local governments have been disappointed at the lack of options available to truly meet these needs.
Specific concerns I have heard include:
- The data is presented in a wonky way -- lots of technical terms, bar graphs, and acronyms -- that your average community member can't understand.
- They are cost-prohibitive, especially for smaller communities that can’t afford a $50,000 or greater line item.
- The data comes across as an information point rather than providing an explanation of why the metric is important, why it's tracked, and how the city AND the community members can help move it in the right direction.
Indeed, until now many local governments might not have had the luxury of accessing any dashboard tool. That's especially unfortunate because, with the right dashboard in place, the implementation of sustainability plans can be so much more effective and efficient.
We developed the KLA Sustainability Dashboard to be that innovative, affordable solution to the transparency, accountability, and engagement challenges that so many communities face.
The KLA Sustainability Dashboard is:
Dynamic: A variety of features ensure that what you are presenting is fresh and relevant.
Easy to Use: It’s built on a user-friendly platform that makes it easy for local government staff to demonstrate and update, if needed.
Automated: You can basically flip on an auto-pilot switch that generates content without you lifting a finger. For example, it pulls from international news sites to link to recent, relevant articles, reports and events. It will also show where your city ranks on various national sustainability indicators (i.e. Walk Score, STAR) without you having to do anything.
Customizable: For the fields you want to tailor or for times when you have additional bandwidth, you can take control and insert your content in place of some of the automated content, such as replacing something generic with your own local press release or event.
Layman-Friendly: Technical details are important to us for our jobs, but when it comes to raising community awareness and promoting a level of engagement that leads to action, we need easy-to-understand data, common terms and images, and equivalencies. Instead of telling people that your water efficiency initiatives have saved an average of XX gallons of water a day, tell them how much you’ve saved in terms of olympic-sized pools. This dashboard does that.
A Driver: It identifies and facilitates specific calls to action so that community members are encouraged and empowered to get involved, and it includes updated news items (again, auto-populated or selected by you) and events to keep folks informed.
Think the KLA Sustainability Dashboard might help jumpstart your sustainability program and help you be more transparent, accountable and engaged with your community? It’s time to find out.
Set up a free online demo today at kla-dash.com.