Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
About ET Index
What is ET Index?
ET Index is a community indicators project for East Tennessee. Community indicators tell the story of our area, helping us to clearly see our strengths and challenges, and focus our efforts to improve our community. The 78 indicators on this site track critical aspects of our region’s economy and quality of life. Each measure includes a description of the indicator, a brief analysis of trends, a chart displaying trends over time, and tables providing data for our counties, plus comparisons to the state and nation.
In addition to a wide array of community indicators, ET Index interprets the information through dashboards, trend summaries, charts, graphs and maps. Information is provided on current efforts to advance our region, as well as links to local community resources. From this foundation of objective analysis of a common set of data, we can work together to address our region’s challenges and build on our strengths.
Are there other cities that do similar work?
Yes, over 1,000 communities around the world have undertaken indicator initiatives. Quality of Life in Jacksonville: Indicators for Progress, was started over 20 years ago in Jacksonville, Fla. Indicator projects have been established in large regions like Southern California (population 17.1 million) and in small ones like Burlington, Vt. (population 39,000). Some notable examples include Boston, Mass., Spartanburg, S.C., and Toronto and Ottawa, Canada.
Who participated in the development of ET Index?
ET Index was launched by the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Council and the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization as a legacy project of the Plan East Tennessee initiative. Critical support and guidance were provided by the United Way of Greater Knoxville, the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley, the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee and the Cornerstone Foundation. CGR (Center for Governmental Research) coordinated creation of the website and provided much of the data and analysis; BobWright Creative designed the website.
What do you mean by the Knoxville region and how did you decide what areas to cover?
A region generally refers to a central city and all of the surrounding areas that support that city and are supported by it. Sometimes this is thought of as an economic region or market area. Definitions of the Knoxville Region can vary from a single county (Knox) to a larger area of up to eight, nine or even 16 counties. For this project, we have presented a number of iterations of the Knoxville region but focus on the largest of these, known as “The Region.” Most indicators have data for this eight-county region. However, in some instances, data is not available for all areas. The following counties compose each geographic region:
- The “PlanET Area” includes Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, and Union counties. This area is the focus of the PlanET initiative which covered the Metropolitan Statistical Area defined by the 2000 Census.
- “Innovation Valley” refers to a regional economic development partnership focused on Anderson, Blount, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, and Roane counties.
- “The Region”, encompasses Anderson, Blount, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Roane, and Union counties. The area known as “The Region” is a composite of the PlanET Area and the Innovation Valley partnership area.
About the Data
What is an indicator?
An indicator is a measure that helps to describe an economic, environmental, social or cultural condition over time. An indicator is often expressed as a rate or percent, such as the infant mortality rate, the unemployment rate or the air quality index.
How did you select the indicators?
We compiled lists of possible indicators and consulted with regional organizations to find out what indicators were most useful and signficant to them.
What criteria do you use when selecting a community indicator?
CGR suggests that the criteria include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:
- The data should be available and relatively easy to access
- It should be reliably and consistently tracked over multiple years, ideally updated at least annually
- The data should be understandable to both the general public and key decision-makers
- The indicator should reflect broad community goals and be tied to critical issues the region is attempting to address. That is to say, positive changes in the indicator data should reflect progress in addressing key issues and achieving desired outcomes
- Data for the indicator should be available for multiple geographic areas (for example, all counties in a state) and should be available for the state and/or nation so that reasonable comparisons can be made to help put the data into a context
- As a set, the indicators selected should ideally include both leading and lagging indicators
In addition, only indicators that provide community-wide data related to outcomes should be considered for inclusion; for example, data pertaining only to individual agencies or programs, and that could not be collected and analyzed for the larger community, should typically not be considered for inclusion.
Where does the data come from?
Much of the data comes from existing sources, such as the U.S. Census Bureau, state and federal government agencies, and universities. No "primary data collection" was perfomed, meaning that all data shown on the site is publically available. You can find the data source for each indicator on the data table and charts provided for that indicator. Raw numbers were converted to rates and dollars were adjusted for inflation to provide a reasonable basis for comparisons.
Why is some of the data several years old?
In gathering data for ET Index, we tried to balance a desire for accuracy, completeness and timeliness. Some data are available every year and regularly and quickly updated, while other datasets take longer to update, and so the data on the website may be 2-3 years old.
How often will the data be updated?
We intend to provide the ET Index community with the most timely information available, updating indicators on an ongoing basis.