October 13, 2008

Creating a National Dashboard

(Image: Flavio Ferrari via Flickr)

Every car has a dashboard.

The dashboard displays information considered to be critical to the task at hand. Speed, available fuel, engine temperature. Increasingly, dashboards are even providing drivers with real-time information about their location and where they're headed.

I want a national dashboard. And a conversation about what we would put on it.

In my recent visit home, my father shared with me some really interesting charts that provided snapshot glimpses of key pieces of economic data. Market volatility. Housing starts.

Which of those pieces of information would make it onto a national dashboard? And what else should be there?

I'd add the number of US citizens without healthcare coverage. Should we add the number of homeless people? How does the CDC measure our national health? Who tracks food insecurity.

I'd want to keep an eye on the income gap. (As of 2005, the top 300,000 Americans collectively enjoyed almost as much income as the bottom 150 million Americans. Per person, the top group received 440 times as much as the average person in the bottom half earned, nearly doubling the gap from 1980.)

How might we measure our progress in the fight against racism? Educational attainment of children of color? How would we measure our support of families, as a nation? Childcare, Head Start?

Should we be watching consumer confidence, and how our students are faring vis a vis their global competition?

I'd definitely want to know how much progress we've made towards energy independence. And what steps we're taking with regards to global warming.

We're not an geographically isolated monarchy; we probably won't be adopting a Gross National Happiness index (like Bhutan's) anytime soon. But it's interesting to think about.

They say that what gets measured, gets addressed. What am I missing? What would you want on our national dashboard?

(In other news, a Princeton professor
won the Nobel prize today
. Again.
And last week, the national debt clock in NYC
ran out of digits, causing me to think
about a national dashboard.)

1 comment:

tumblewords said...

I'm so puzzled by the lack of awareness in the fuzzy leaders that I can think of nothing to add to your very clever national dashboard.