Hidden gems: Community information database

In a conversation with a friend and colleague, who happens to be a social geographer, I mentioned the Community Information Database, only to discover she’d never heard of it.  She suggested I post about in my blog, and here it is – the first of many hidden gems I hope to bring to readers’ attention.

The Community Information Database (CID), developed by the Rural Secretariat with the cooperation of provincial and territorial governments, is intended to be

a free internet-based resource developed to provide communities, researchers, and governments with access to consistent and reliable socio-economic and demographic data and information for all communities across Canada.

And it delivers.  Despite a clunky interface, and a steep learning curve that can’t be bypassed, in my experience, the CID provides a rich source of information about all communities, including urban ones, with data from the 1996, 2001, and 2006 Census.  In fact, more than 500 pieces of data can be retrieved for all of Canada, by province, region, Census Metropolitan area, Census subdivision, or regional health district.

The data can be found within broad categories including population, language, immigration and citizenship, Aboriginal peoples, education, employment and work, income, families, housing, economic sectors, health, crime, and community-established benchmarks. A complete list of indicators is also provided.

One of the purposes of the database, at the time of its inception, was to allow communities to establish baseline data when launching an initiative, and to monitor changes, as part of the evaluation process for that initiative.  Its depth and breadth makes it useful for similar purposes at higher levels of aggregation, as well as providing useful historical comparisons for purposes of program and policy design and assessment.

My hat is off the initiators of this resource.

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