City planning shaped by the wellbeing of its citizens.
Wealth is rarely the best way to measure happiness, so in an effort to find a better way, the city of Santa Monica has launched its Wellbeing Project. It will monitor various aspects of wellbeing throughout the city, and then use that information to guide city policies, along with the allocation of resources to improve conditions needed for people to thrive.
The well-being index will be based on factors such as social connections, economic stability, personal safety, physical surroundings, fulfilling employment, civic engagement, and health. More specifically it will draw on quantitative and qualitative information, such as crime statistics and school attendance rates, as well as personal surveys and behavioural analytics.
By the end of 2014, or early 2015, the city hopes to develop a single well-being index that can be adopted around the country to try and help direct local government policy. “We want to use it as not just a static report on the shelf, but something that’s going to be living and breathing in a way that will inform city policy over time,” said Julie Rusk, a city employee who is leading The Wellbeing Project. “The drivers of this are interrelated and holistic, but a lot of city services and social services are siloed.”
Santa Monica created something similar in 2012, when they released their “Youth Wellbeing Report Card,” which then became the seed for this particular project. In March 2013, they were also one of five cities to win funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, which challenged Mayors from around the country to come up with innovative solutions to the most pressing problems faced by city government.