• About the Project
  • Indicators: What We Measure
    Sectors
    What is Civic Vitality?
    Civic vitality reflects a community’s connectedness and bonds of trust, or social capital, created through neighborliness, friendship, kinship, civil discourse and collaboration. These are strengthened by places to gather, open access to information, opportunities for civic and electoral engagement, effective leadership and philanthropic giving -- although these same assets can be used to exclude outsiders.

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    What is Cultural Life & the Arts?
    The Cultural Life & the Arts sector reflect a community’s cultural vibrancy –it includes all of its diverse ethnic traditions and festivals, opportunities for art and music making and enjoyment, venues for the performing and visual arts, architectural heritage, museums and public art.

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    What is the Economy?
    An economy is the sum total of an area’s production, distribution, consumption and exchange of goods and services resulting from investments of labor and financial capital in the use of that area’s natural, human and technological resources.  

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    What is Education?
    Education is the process by which skills, knowledge and values are transmitted from teacher to student while, at the same time, each student’s potential to think and act logically, creatively and critically is being developed.  

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    What is Environment & Energy?
    The environment encompasses an area’s natural resources – land, air, fresh and marine water, wildlife habitat and biodiversity, and the commercial and recreational uses they support – and their intersection with energy sources for and emissions from transportation, commerce, industry and home heating and cooling systems, along with the local effects of global climate change.

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    What is Health?
    For an individual, health is physical and mental freedom from acute illness, chronic disease and injury reflecting a good diet, adequate exercise, environmental and behavioral safety and genetic good luck. Individual health outcomes are greatly affected by socio-economic and community-level factors such as access to affordable healthy food, opportunities for exercise, recreation, supportive relationships, degree of exposure to environmental toxins and unsafe conditions, and the quality of one’s education and housing.

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    What is Housing?
    Housing meets the basic human need for shelter; for most households it is a major expense or investment that can lead to economic security or insecurity. Housing is also a fundamental building block of livable, vibrant communities and, when blighted it is a source of community destabilization.

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    What is Public Safety?
    Public safety is the peace of mind that results from the effective prevention of and/or response to events that endanger or threaten both individuals and the general public with physical, emotional or financial harm. Public safety encompasses both violent and non-violent crime, from domestic and street violence to cyber-security and white-collar crime.
    What is Technology?
    Technology is the development and use of tools, methods and skills to achieve a goal. From arrowheads and the control of fire to ploughs, wheels, engines and computer chips, new technologies change our relationship to the natural world and to the ways in which we live, work, connect and create. 

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    What is Transportation?

    Transportation is the movement of cargo -- people, animals or material goods – from one place to another. Modes of transportation in contemporary life include walking, bicycling, cars, buses, trucks, aircraft, freight and passenger trains, subways, ships and boats.

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    Crosscut Topics
    Boston Neighborhoods
    Boston is a city of neighborhoods – some, like Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, are as large as some of Massachusetts’ bigger cities, while others, such as Charlestown, are town-sized. Within each of Boston’s sixteen neighborhoods, designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority as Boston’s official planning districts, are micro-communities, each with its’ own unique characteristics, populations, assets, and challenges.  
    Children & Youth

    Children mirror a community’s values, progress and challenges. If a community’s children are thriving, it is likely that the whole community is doing well. The Boston Indicators Project tracks progress through 2030—Boston’s 400th Anniversary - when many of today’s children and youth will be civic, political and business leaders and their children will be in school.

    Competitive Edge

    The Greater Boston region has a long history as a birthplace of revolution and innovation and is packed with firsts - the nation’s first public park and public library, breakthroughs in medicine and “green” building.  With a newly revitalized waterfront and some of the nation’s - and the world’s - top colleges and universities, the region - with Boston at its core - attracts students from around the world and top-tier talent in all fields to its dynamic  and diversified knowledge economy.

    Fiscal Health
    This cross-cut filter measures fiscal health in several ways: by tracking municipal, state and federal funding as well as levels of philanthropic giving to the nonprofit sector.  In a high-cost city such as Boston, the financial health of individuals and families is another important measure of the fiscal stability and health of the region.
    Race & Ethnicity
    Issues of race and ethnicity - in Boston and elsewhere - generally emerge on two fronts: one is the cultural richness that racial and ethnic diversity contribute to a city and region; the other is persistent disparities in education, health and economic status.  People of color have often faced inequitably high hurdles to educational and economic advancement.
    Sustainable Development

    Sustainable development refers to patterns of growth that integrate environmental and human health, economic dynamism, and social cohesion and equity.  Sustainable development is multi-dimensional by definition: biodiversity health; the availability of jobs at a living age; regional and per capita carbon dioxide emissions; the availability of fresh water and open spaces; etc.  All of these factors increase the quality of life.

    View the Entire Framework
    Complete Framework

    The Boston Indicators Project’s comprehensive Framework of indicators and measures reflects an intensive, participatory selection process that included hundreds of Bostonians and reviewed by thousands more. Beginning with positive goals for the future, these data-rich indicators and measures provide an objective way to assess current conditions, trends over time and patterns of relationships, as well as outcomes for specific groups, neighborhoods, the City of Boston and the Metro Boston region.  The Complete Project Framework can also be re-sorted into crosscutting topics and civic agenda goals.

    View the Complete Framework of Indicators

  • Our Reports: Key Findings
    City of Ideas: Reinventing Boston's Innovation Economy

    The 2012 Boston Indicators Report shows that standard top-level economic indicators don't tell us everything we need to know about the state of jobs and equity in our local and regional economy. We need to reinvent Boston's innovation economy through greater opportunity and shared prosperity.

    Read Our Past Publications Chronicling Boston from 2000-2009

    The Boston Indicators Project produces biennial reports chronicling Boston's accomplishments and the full array of challenges facing the city and region.  These reports build on expert and stakeholder convenings, data analysis, and reviews of recent research. Over the years, they have helped to catalyze an on-going set of conversations throughout the community about our region's economic competitiveness and the key challenges facing Boston.

    The Measure of Poverty: A Boston Indicators Project 2011 Special Report

    The Measure of Poverty was released in September 2011.  Findings show that the rates of poverty in Boston changed very little over the last twenty years, but is more deeply concentrated in single-parent families in particular neighborhoods. State and local budget cuts due to the recession may have long-term consequences in mitigating the effects of poverty.  The Boston Indicators Project released another special report in 2008, Boston’s Education Pipeline: A Report Card, which provided a comprehensive view of the entire arc of Boston’s system of educational opportunities and outcomes, with an update in 2011.

  • Community Snapshots: Boston Neighborhoods to the Region
    Neighborhoods & Planning Districts

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. For facts and figures about Boston Neighborhoods see the Boston Neighborhood Topic Crosscut Page.

    City of Boston

    The City of Boston is comprised of 16 Planning Districts and 26 neighborhoods, each with a unique history and identity.  


    Metro Boston Region
    The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) region includes 101 cities and towns. Learn about the region.  

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about the MAPC region.
    Massachusetts

    This portion of the site is coming soon. In the meantime check out the MetroBoston DataCommon for facts and figures about Massachusetts.

  • Tools & Resources: Data, Mapping & Research
    Learn more about a topic or do your own analysis through access to research, reports, data and analytical tools.

    Explore our digital library, which archives research reports, journal articles, newspaper clippings, blog posts, media coverage, and more about Boston, the region, nation and world.  Search all by using our sector and crosscut topics as filters.
    Learn more about a topic or do your own analysis through access to research, reports, data and analytical tools.


    Find other data-rich websites and analytical tools.
  • Shaping The Future: Civic Agenda 2030 & Innovations
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.
    Greater Boston's Emerging Civic Agenda, created by hundreds of experts, policy makers and community stakeholders over ten years, offers as set of coherent data-driven strategies to move the region forward.  It is organized in four areas, with goals and measurable milestones.
    By aligning our resources and efforts, we can each make a difference in shaping the future.
    What are the best ways to solve the pressing challenges of our city, region, country and planet?  The Hub of Innovation profiles a set of breakthrough solutions from the region, nation and world. 

    Nominate a breakthrough!


Highlights: Analysis of Key Trends and Challenges

What is Public Safety?

Public safety is the peace of mind that results from the effective prevention of and/or response to events that endanger or threaten both individuals and the general public with physical, emotional or financial harm. Public safety encompasses both violent and non-violent crime, from domestic and street violence to cyber-security and white-collar crime. The Public Safety sector consists of the criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies as well as consumer protection and public health and public education agencies at all levels of government, from the US Department of Homeland Security to local first responders. It includes neighborhood crime watch groups, youth- and street-workers, community- and faith-based organizations, substance-abuse, mental health and other preventive programs as well as academic criminal justice departments and schools of law.

 

THE PUBLIC SAFETY SECTOR IN BOSTON

In addition to crime prevention and response, public safety includes emergency preparedness and response – from Homeland Security and the Coast Guard to local Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians. It also includes food and product safety.

Federal agencies involved in protecting residents of Boston and New England include the regional offices of the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA),  the Federal Trade Commission for consumer protection, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA),  the US Coast Guard, US Attorney’s Office and the FBI.  

State public safety departments include the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and the Massachusetts Department of Correction.  The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) is the Commonwealth’s juvenile justice agency, “promoting positive change in the lives of those in our custody,” while the Department of Children and Families is charged with protecting children from abuse and neglect. 
Area hospitals such as the Boston Medical Center and Children's Hospital Boston. Regional organizations such as the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) are essential partners in local and regional public safety networks.

Boston’s Fire Fighting Force is organized into 2 divisions and 11 districts. Each division is under the command of a Deputy Fire Chief and each district is under the command of a District Fire Chief, with companies classified as: Engine Company; Ladder Company; Rescue Company; Tower Company; and Marine Unit. All companies are under the command of a Fire Captain and are divided into four shifts. 

The City of Boston is within the jurisdiction of several Suffolk County law enforcement offices. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has teams of attorneys, advocates and investigators in nine district and municipal courts – eight in Boston – with specialized units to handle cases involving child abuse, sexual assault, elders, juveniles and gangs.  Most felonies committed in Boston are tried in Suffolk Superior Court and most serious crimes committed by defendants under age 17 are adjudicated in the Boston Juvenile Court. 

Cases are appealed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court or the Supreme Judicial Court.  Suffolk County law enforcement offices also include the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and the Suffolk County House of Correction.  

The City of Boston falls within the jurisdiction of several Suffolk County law enforcement offices. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office has teams of attorneys, advocates and investigators in nine district and municipal courts, eight located in Boston, with specialized units to handle some cases involving child abuse, sexual assault, elders, juveniles and gangs.  

Most felonies committed in Boston are tried in Suffolk Superior Court and most serious crimes committed by defendants under age 17 are adjudicated in the Boston Juvenile Court. Cases are appealed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court or the Supreme Judicial Court.  Other Suffolk County law enforcement offices include the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department and the Suffolk County House of Correction.  

The Boston Police Department (BPD) is increasingly focused on a community policing and analytical model of crime prevention that includes:

  • Safe Street Teams to increase police/community engagement through walking beats, preventive measures and enforcement. Teams are active in: Egleston Square (E13); South End/Lower Roxbury (D4); Franklin Field (B2); Eagle Hill/Maverick (A7); Orchard Park/Dudley (B2); Codman Square (C-11); Codman Square (B-3); Downtown Crossing (A1); Tremont Street/Stuart Street (A1); Blue Hill Avenue/Morton Street (B3); Bowdoin Street/Geneva Avenue (C11); Grove Hall (B2); Upham’s Corner (B2); and Franklin Hill (B3). 
  • Youth Service Providers Network (YSPN), a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, that places social workers in our district stationhouses and specialized units to work with at-risk/high-risk youth and their families referred by Police Officers.
  • COMPSTAT, a multifaceted and interactive approach to crime control and quality of life improvement strategies through crime data analysis and the  mapping of trends by the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), and a live mapping software program – CrimeShow – that allows for instant analysis.
  • The Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) identifies major impact players and the location of shootings and gang violence to better understand the complex nature of gangs and supplies intelligence to improve Boston’s counter-terrorism capacity and the monitoring of returning ex-offenders. It also uses Shot Spotter, an acoustical technology, to locate shootings immediately, with notifications generally arriving 1 - 2 minutes ahead of 911 calls.
  • Text-A-Tip is an anonymous text messaging tip line by which individuals can text the word “tip” to Crime (27463) to report a crime that is publicized through MBTA-donated ad space in subway cars, platforms and buses. 
  • The Street Outreach Team addresses the needs of the homeless, individuals with mental illness and chronic substance abusers in partnership with mental health agencies, service providers, shelter outreach personnel, Community Service Officers, and the courts.
  • The Constituent Response Team (CRT),  identifies, analyzes and compares data through computerized mapping from multiple sources  such as citizen complaints for minor crimes, nuisances, loitering, unruly youth, public drinking, loud music and physical disorder such as abandoned buildings, graffiti, litter and vacant lots so that they can be addressed by Boston’s departments of Public Works, Transportation,  Neighborhood Services, Code Enforcement, Parks and Recreation, Graffiti Busters and Basic City Services.
  • Operation Ceasefire: The BPD has convened interagency working groups focused on preventing serious gun violence in Districts 2, 3, 4, and 11. Meeting bi-weekly, groups review gun incidents and gang violence, and develop violence reduction plans blending enforcement, intervention, and prevention strategies. One tactic us is a “Call In” in which  6 – 20 or more gang members associated with a specific incidence of violence are called into court to meet with criminal justice professionals and community based agencies.
  • Operation Homefront. Under the premise that the family is the first line of defense against gang/criminal activity among youth, Homefront is a collaboration among the BPD School Police Unit, Youth Violence Strike Force, Boston Public School Police and Faith-Based Organizations. Home visits are conducted on a weekly basis via referrals from various Boston Police officers, Boston Public Schools, law enforcement agencies, community based service providers and clergy. Parents are informed about their son/daughter’s negative behavior and educated on the warning signs of criminal and/or gang involvement. 
  • Community Ombudsman Oversight Panel (CO-OP),  a three person independent civilian board appointed by the Mayor reviews Internal Investigations cases appealed by complainants.
  • National Night Out is a citywide celebration that cultivates and strengthens partnerships among the community, youth, police, city agencies and community-based organizations. 
Boston is a model for strong community-police partnerships to effectively fight crime and violence which in the 1990s became known as the Boston Miracle following a sharp reduction in youth homicides. Partners include such faith-based organizations as the Boston TenPoint Coalition, the Black Ministerial Alliance, and mechanisms such as the Summer Safety Funding Collaborative to extend the hours of operation of summer programs and enhance their quality. Teen Empowerment mobilizes youth and holds an annual Boston Youth Peace Conference.  In addition, groups such as Citizens for Juvenile Justice organize forums on important t issues open to the public. and hosts an annual Leadership Celebration for the entire community of people who work with and on behalf of at-risk youth.  These groups were joined in 2010 by a powerful new organization of mothers who lost children to violence, Mothers for Justice and Equality.The Boston Foundation is focusing its anti-violence strategy on StreetSafe Boston, an initiative reaching out  to proven-risk youth through a streetworker program and connecting them to the mainstream through education, jobs, housing and other services – a national and international, model for violence prevention. 

Boston’s Neighborhood Crime Watches, through which neighbors come together, get to know one another and get involved in issues of crime and safety and other quality of life issues.

Greater Boston contains many of the nation’s premier academic programs in criminal justice studies: Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and its Institute on Race and Justice; Harvard University’s Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management; BU’s Metropolitan College program and Suffolk University’s graduate program in Crime and Justice Studies.