The Knowledge to Act


New data dashboard offers Houstonians tool to measure city progress

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OCTOBER 29, 2019, HOUSTON—A new website allows residents of Houston to quickly visualize progress across the city and in their neighborhoods on factors such as income inequality, graduation rates, access to transit, proximity of waste sites and more.

Houston Sustainability Indicators gathers data from multiple statistical sources on a comprehensive range of issues to answer: “Is Houston becoming a more sustainable city?”

The data dashboard is a collaboration between Rice University, Houston Sustainability Indicators Program (Rice-HSi) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a global sustainability think tank. The site charts and maps key data points in 17 categories that together represent community well-being and align with the International Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

Median income Houston Texas
Median income is just one measure of economic progress Houston Sustainability Indicators tracks.

A growing number of American cities—including New York City, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore—are using the SDGs as a framework to measure progress, says Stefan Jungcurt, IISD Lead for SDG Indicators and Data. That shift prompted his team to develop an easy-to-replicate platform that turns local data into powerful, interactive visualizations.

“North American cities are looking for more affordable, modern ways to monitor local development and engage citizens,” says Jungcurt. “In our head office city of Winnipeg, the civil service is redesigning their main municipal planning document to include SDG indicators after viewing a similar dashboard, while poverty reduction groups are using the data to refine their priorities. I’m excited to see how this tool helps Houston’s leaders advocate for data-driven policy.”

Dr. David Abraham, Research Director for the Rice-HSi team and Treasurer for the Community Indicators Consortium (CIC) coalition says, “The City of Houston will celebrate its 200-year birthday in 2036. That is just six years after the 2030 mark that countries all over the world have set for achieving the SDG targets. Through our work, Houston will join countries and cities across the world in tracking sustainability progress and improving quality of life for its people.”

“Every year until 2030, our team will report on Houston’s progress towards the 2030 SDG targets,” says Abraham. “We’ll also be reaching out nationally to support other cities in tracking their SDG Targets.”

Houston Sustainability Indicators:

For interviews or a media walkthrough of Houston Sustainability Indicators, contact:

Matthew TenBruggencate, Communications Officer, IISD, [email protected] or 1-204-297-9779

David Abraham, Research Director, Rice-HSi, [email protected] or 713-348-1000

About Rice-HSI

The Houston Sustainability Indicators (HSI) program is a long-range effort to assist with the measurement and characterization of community sustainability and urban sustainability in Houston. Metrics for the chosen indicators were defined and are measured based on literature review; expert and advisory consultation; and data availability. The Houston Sustainability Indicators Program was funded by the Shell Center for Sustainability from 2010 - 2017. The Rice University, Sustainability Solutions Lab (Rice-SSL) group, currently manages the program.


About the International Institute for Sustainable Development

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank that delivers the knowledge to act. Our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability. Our big-picture view allows us to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today – ecological destruction, social exclusion, unfair laws and economic and social rules, a changing climate. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa and Toronto, our work impacts lives in nearly 100 countries.

For more information, please contact: [email protected] or +1 (613) 238 2296 ext. 114