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JIIS Bulletin - September 2012
Assessing the state of a city
A JIIS team, comprising Dr. Maya Choshen, Israel Kimhi, Yair Assaf-Shapira and Michal Korach, has been researching the field of "indicators" in order to develop measurement tools for analyzing and monitoring the state of a city or region. On 24 October, the Institute will hold a conference on the subject, aimed at policy makers – directors-general, strategic heads and other professionals – at which the team will present its findings and accumulated data. 

Discussing some of the insights the team drew from the research, Choshen notes: “Indicators are a valuable tool for many municipal authorities in the Western world today. Their aim is to allow the progress of a city (or authority) to be measured, based on an existing plan or previously set targets and a vision. The idea is not to monitor the city’s performance but rather to follow and assess progress toward the goals or plan it set.”  

JIIS previously conducted a study for the Municipality of Tel Aviv that developed a number of indicators to serve as measurement tools for analyzing and monitoring the state of that city. Their model can be applied to other regional and local authorities as well. 

Kimhi says that “the indicators enable decision makers and the professionals, as well as the public, to follow municipal developments and to assist the decision makers to ensure the plan stays on track. You could think of them as a kind of benchmark showing trends or changes in the city’s development processes on central subjects. They enable decision makers at the local level, the mayor in particular, to follow those trends and changes. Periodic measurement enables long-term assessment of the level of development or decline of the city in relation to itself and in relation to other relevant authorities.”  

The indicators can be split into two groups, adds Assaf-Shapira: “universal indicators – which can be useful for all cities everywhere, and specific indicators – which are tailored to the local conditions of a given city or town in light of its own unique character and the goals set for it. It is then important to know how to present the indicators – are they aimed at decision makers or municipal professionals? Or perhaps the public? In other words, the format for presenting the indicators should be thought out so that it will be understood in those different contexts.” 

The team emphasizes that preparing a set of indicators for a local authority requires extremely close collaboration between the researchers and the authority’s representatives, from the mayor to the department heads, urban planners and other professionals. 

Among the participants at the planned conference are Interior Ministry Director-General Amram Kalaji, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, former director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office Raanan Dinur, former interior minister Ophir Pines-Paz, Prof. Eran Feitelson of the Hebrew University, and Tami Gavrieli, head of the Strategic Planning Unit in the Tel Aviv Municipality.  

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