• About the Project
  • Indicators: what we track
    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.


    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.


    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.  


    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.  


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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. 


    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.


    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

  • Reports: in-depth analysis
    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.

  • Snapshots & Briefs: quick reviews
    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.

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

  • Tools & Resources: find what you need
    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.
    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!

  • Shape of the City: Boston's future
    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.
    A Lifetime of Opportunity
    Organized into six buckets, the Opportunity Index tracks key indicators of mobility across a lifetime.  Developed to initiate and inform conversations on inequality, this tool will evolve along with conversations on economic and social disparities.
Goals & Indicators:
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Part 1 Crime by US Metros
  • Uniform Crime Reports
Homeland Security Funding by State
  • Homeland Security Funding by State
Emergency Preparedness by City or State
  • Measure needed
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Trends in Types of Crimes
  • Property Crime, Boston
  • Violent Crime, Boston

Crime rates in Boston continue to decline following an up-tick in 2005 and 2006, with much of the credit going to an increased emphasis on community policing, more street workers and reinvigorated and new public/private partnerships.  Overall, crime in Boston declined by 8.4%, or 2,632 incidents, between 2007 and 2008, continuing a gradual drop since the last peak in 2001. However, citywide averages obscure an increase in youth violence in geographic “hot spots,” for which Street Safe Boston—a $20 million public-private partnership targeting youth violence—and new policing initiatives have been launched, even in the face of budget cuts.Citywide, property crime (robbery, burglary, larceny and vehicle theft) increased by 1%—or 224 incidents—between 2007 and 2008, but dropped by 14% since 2000. Citywide, actual and attempted vehicle thefts were down by 30%, burglary by 9% and larceny by 6%.Citywide, total violent crime, including homicides, rapes ,aggravated assault (actual and attempted) declined by 8%, or 392 incidents, from 31,366 in 2007 to 28,743 in 2008. Half of reported violent crimes are concentrated in Police Districts that comprise roughly one-third of the city’s population and cover the neighborhoods of Roxbury/Mission Hill (20%), Dorchester (16%), and Mattapan/North Dorchester (14%).

Crime in Boston's public housing has also declined to the lowest rate since the early 1990's.  In 2008 there were over 200 fewer violent crimes at BHA locations than in 2006 and roughly 800 fewer than in 1993.  Property crimes also declined by about 200 incidences between 2006 and 2008 with roughly 1,300 fewer property crimes than in 1993.

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Resident Public Perception of Safety
  • Neighborhood Perceptions of Safety
  • Perception of Increase in Weapons
  • Perceptions of Gang Activity
Quality of Life Incidents Captured by Citizens Connect
  • Quality of Life Incidents
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Residents who Trust their Neighbors in Boston
  • Trust in Neighbors
Trends in Reported Hate Crimes in Boston
  • Hate Crimes by Type
  • 842bPerp
  • 842cVic

The number of hate crimes in Boston investigated by the Community Disorders Unit of the Boston Police Department (BPD) continued to decline overall, reaching an all-time low of 169 in 2006, despite a slight increase in 2005 to 219 reported incidents. 

According to the BPD, the greatest number of hate crimes in 2006—roughly 30%—were perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation.  For the first time, African Americans comprised the second largest group of victims with 33—or 20%—reported incidents in 2006, down from 65—or 30%—in 2005.  Jewish people experienced the largest increase in perpetrated hate crimes in 2006 with 24 reported incidents, double the number in 2005 and up from just 9 in 2004.  Crimes against Middle Eastern people declined to 8 incidents in 2006 from 20 in 2004.

According to the BPD, the Police District including South Boston reported the highest number and percentage of hate and miscellaneous crimes for 2006 with 43 incidents—roughly 20%—followed by Central/Beacon Hill and Dorchester, both with 27 incidents, and the South End/Back Bay District with 26 incidents.  Mattapan experienced the largest decrease in incidents with 6 in 2006, down from 18 in 2005.  Allston/Brighton and Hyde Park also experienced 9 fewer hate crimes in 2006 than in 2005. 

Reported Incidents of Domestic Violence
  • Incidents of Domestic Violence
Strong Community Organizations
  • Neighborhood Watch and Support Organizations
Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Juvenile Crime Rates
  • Youth Crime, Ages 14 to 24
  • Youth Crime by Type, Ages 16 and Under
  • Percent of Youth Who Have Carried a Weapon

Overall youth crime declined from a high of 9,457 incidents in 2006 to 7,101 incidents in 2009, according to the more recently available data from the Boston Police Department.  This decline was largely due to a decrease in Part 2, or quality of life, crimes committed by youth in Boston as the total number of violent and property crimes committed by those under 24 remained at about 3,000 incidents.  The decline was also driven by a falling number of incidents involving very young youth under the age of 16.

Additionally, the percent of teens in Boston who reported carrying a gun within the previous month continued to fall to just 3.3% in 2011 compared to 10% of teens in 1993.  The racial/ethnic gap has all but closed when it comes to carrying weapons: 3.9% of African Americans, 3.5% of white and 2.8% of Latinos reported carrying a gun in 2011 compared to 15.3%, 4.7% and 9.6%, respectively, in 1993.

Rates of Delinquency at School
  • Annual Expulsion Rates by School
  • Annual Truancy Rates by School
  • Annual Dropout Rates by School

Suspensions: The BPS district-wide suspension rate has remained around 6% for the last few academic years, but is down from near 9% in 2007.  However, a number of schools had a suspension rate near 18% or higher in 2011 including a number of BPS high schools and charter schools.

Truancy: the BPS district average truancy rate has remained at about 1%.  However, 6 schools in Boston--including 5 charter schools--had an annual truancy rate greater than 4% in 2011.

Dropouts: Annual dropout rates in BPS dropped 6.4% in 2011, the lowest rate on record.  However, at as many as 28 schools (both district and charter schools) the annual dropout rate was greater than 15%.

Out-of-School Time Recreation Opportunities
  • Out-of-School Time Recreation Opportunities

According to BostoNavigator, there are more tan 120 facilities across the city of Boston providing hundreds of different programming options for out of school time activity and learning.  The Boston Center for Youth and Families also runs 34 different sites across the city, including pools that are open seasonally.  Together, City and private out-of-school facilities provide programming in the arts, sports, college prep, technology and media literacy, jobs an career exploration among many other options.  

Indicators Measures How Are We Doing?
Trends in Funding for the Boston Police Department
  • Funding for Boston Police Department
Massachusetts Funding for Safety & Criminal Justice
  • Massachusetts Funding for Law Enforcement
  • Massachusetts Funding for Prisons, Probation & Parole
Funding for the Department of Children, Youth & Families
  • Funding for the Massachusetts Department of Children, Youth & Families