Monitoring active healthy communities

Evaluating the progress of Council’s active and healthy community goals is important. Evaluation should start at the beginning of the Community Plan and be ongoing throughout the life of the Plan. Periodically monitoring active healthy community indicators can also be a valuable advocacy tool when seeking additional funding.

There are three types of information on active healthy communities that may be gathered:

  1. increased opportunities for active healthy living resulting from your plan, such as kilometres of new walking paths and improvements in bike paths, which may or may not lead immediately to quantifiable measures of increased participation
  2. the number of new programs; number of schools, workplaces and people participating; changes in beliefs and attitudes; number of partners, etc., which are direct quantifiable measures that can be attributed to the active health community strategies in the Community Plan
  3. the perceptions of community leaders and residents of all ages of the active and healthy communities measures in the Community Plan and its effects, which may be especially important to stakeholders, funders and elected officials.

Examples of performance measures (1):

Theme Performance measure
Active and public transport
  • Cycling infrastructure: kilometres of continuous cycleways, total length of cycleways, bicycle parking facilities at major destinations and end-of-trip facilities at major destinations
  • Development and implementation of local Integrated Transport Plans
  • Quality of infrastructure connections, including integrated bicycle network access to major destinations.
  • Percentage of the local population within walking distance of public transport stops
  • Frequency of public transport to major destinations
  • Resident satisfaction surveys on amenity of local public domain
  • Public domain plans in place for significant pedestrian routes/ cycleways
  • Number of people visibly active within a neighbourhood
Walkable and livable communities
  • Footpath infrastructure: kilometres of footpaths per kilometre squared, total length of footpaths, footpath connections between residential areas and shopping.
  • Footpath maintenance schedules on target
  • Number and length of 40 km/h and 50 km/h speed limit zones (to reduce accidents and improve local amenity)
  • Street connectivity measures including ratio of intersections to land area (eg number of intersections per km squared), and similar ratios relating to number of blocks, culs de sac and/or access points
  • Visitor satisfaction with amenity of Town Centres
  • Increase in residential densities in Centres
  • Take-up of mixed use developments in Centres
  • Implementation rate of Public Domain Plan measures: landscaping, presence of grass, trees and shade
  • Surveys indicate that Town Centres and other key destinations are ‘areas of interest’
  • Streetscape and interface guidelines incorporated within local council Development Control Plans
  • Post occupancy audit indicates street activity levels
  • Compliance of approved developments with CPTED principles
  • Percentage of pedestrian trips to local destinations
Open space, parks and recreation
  • Number and location of facilities that promote active living
  • Total amount of open space per head of population
  • Percentage of residents within 400m of a neighbourhood park and 800m of a district park
  • Location/ provision of street and park furniture (including benches, resting places and awnings for shade) on significant pedestrian routes/ cycleways
  • Location/ provision of lighting on major pedestrian/ cycling routes
  • Maintenance schedule on target for local parks
  • Funding received for open space provision/ embellishment
Active healthy school and workplace environments
  • Number of Safe Routes to School, Travel Smart and Walk to School programs by school
  • Number of Travel Smart Workplace programs in place
  • Number and percentage of students and workers travelling to school and work by active transport
  • Number of Breastfeeding at Work Policies in place
  • Number of healthy catering policies in place
Community safety and crime prevention
  • Progress of strategic community safety plans, including appropriate social solutions on crime prevention strategies
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Guidelines incorporated within local council Development Control Plans
  • Amount of garbage or litter within Town Centres and key destinations
  • Total graffiti and its rate of removal
Healthy food
  • Percentage of low socioeconomic residents with access (by active and public transport) to affordable fresh food outlets.
  • Number of fresh food outlets, by suburb.
Farm-fresh local food
  • Number of community gardens, by suburb
  • Number of farmers’ markets, by frequency
  • Procurement policy for the purchasing of locally-grown foods
Active healthy communities for all
  • Number of active healthy living programs by local population, catering for particular sub-groups and income levels
  • Attendance rates at physical activity sessions
  • Number of Health Impact Assessments completed
  • Number and frequency of community events such as walks or runs
  • Number of community events supplying and promoting healthy food and drinks.
Social wellbeing
  • Availability of brochures and signage to promote active healthy living
  • Local directories are established and updated, and include local transport information, location of recreation facilities, community gardens and walking/cycling networks and trails
  • Number of public facilities that have breastfeeding facilities.

 

Available sources of information include:

  • Reviews of council activities
  • Review of progress of the Works Program
  • Community surveys and consultations (including post-occupancy surveys)
  • ABS Census
  • Queensland Health surveys and audits
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for built environment features
  • Infrastructure audits

Reference:

  1. Wiggins D (2010). Addressing active living through council’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework. NSW Premier’s Council for Active Living: Sydney
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