People absorb information in many ways. Here at Community Commons, we present data differently to ensure it comes across in an easy-to-understand way.
For example, each month we update our data on unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When you access this data you’ll see it in two places: maps and reports. And within our maps and reports, you’ll see the data presented five different ways:
- As a map layer;
- As a data table;
- As a total number or percentage of a total;
- As a comparative dial; and
- As a line graph/trend line.
Below the data are displayed in a map. Each county is shaded to indicate the rate of unemployment. The darkest shades indicate a higher rate of unemployment. The areas in light green and yellowish-green indicate a lower rate of unemployment.
Beyond the maps you can also view this same data in our report tool. Reports can be created for any county in the nation. Within the reports we present the data in several ways. First, the indicator will be displayed and described in text. Have you ever noticed that the text changes based on the data?
Beyond the text, the data are presented as a table where you can easily compare the data at the county, state, and national levels. The color of the text (green or red) will vary based on whether the indicator is better or worse than the state average. Did you know you can download the data from the table into Excel?
Moreover, in this section you will see a data gauge. These gauges are another way to help you understand the data and put it into context. Knowing that a county has an unemployment rate of 9% may not mean much to you but knowing that’s nearly twice the national average may help you make meaning of the number.
Finally, you will notice some of the indicators in the report will include a trend line. In addition to the context gained from comparing your county to the state and the nation, knowing the context of your indicator over time is also valuable.
In the case of unemployment rate, we’re able to display a 12-month trend line and a 10-year trend line. Did you know these charts are interactive? You can click on the boxes in the legend to toggle on/off the different lines or hover over the lines on the chart to see the specific values.
There you have it. One indicator, five ways. We’ll continue to work to make the data on Community Commons meaningful and understandable to support you and your important work improving communities.