About this tool

Turning local data into action for the Sustainable Development Goals

Tracking-Progress enables communities to easily track and visualize progress on issues that matter to them. The customizable data dashboards share key indicators of community well-being as charts, maps and graphs, allowing citizens and decision makers to:

  • quickly gauge progress and trends over time
  • better advocate for evidence-based policy
  • transparently report on the results of policy interventions

The International Institute for Sustainable Development intentionally designed the Tracking-Progress site template to be easy to replicate in any community, reducing the costs and technical knowledge needed to build and maintain a powerful tool for evidence-based decision making.

Customizable for any community size

While people may think of a “community” as the local area where they reside, Tracking-Progress can scale to measure progress in any municipality, sub-national area, country, or region. For example:

  • Awesome Bridgewater tracks local priorities of the municipal government of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Canada for its approximately 8,500 residents
  • Houston Sustainability Indicators visualizes key indicators of well-being for the 2.3 million residents of the City of Houston, Texas, USA
  • Communi-TT shares data on a variety of indicators for all of Trinidad and Tobago, with a special emphasis on factors affecting flood risk management
  • The Global SDG Indicator Platform visualizes data across the entire planet, drawing its priorities from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Tracking-Progress maps of Houston, Trinidad and Tobago, and the World

Data visualizations scale to the city (Houston), national (Trinidad and Tobago) and international level.


Customizable for any priorities

The left-hand navigation bar on every Tracking-Progress site identifies thematic groupings of community indicators. Clicking on any button will reveal relevant data points chosen as community indicators. However, the exact thematic areas and community indicators will differ for each community, reflecting local conditions, data availability and the interests of the organizations that maintain each site.

  • When United Way Winnipeg and IISD built Peg to measure progress in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, they consulted with 800 community members to select eight thematic areas and 60 indicators to give a broad view of life in the Canadian city.
  • The Cumberland County Energy Authority chose seven thematic areas and seven indicators for Cumberland County Tracking Progress to more tightly focus their dashboard on their goals around clean energy.
  • Some organizations have purpose built their Tracking-Progress sites for deep looks at aspects of well-being. The United Way Trinidad & Tobago selected thematic areas and indicators for Communi-TT to increase awareness and accountability around flood risk management, while the Calgary Local Immigration Partnership chose indicators for LIPdata.ca to increase transparency on the well-being of immigrants in Canada.
  • In building Houston Sustainability Indicators, the team at Rice University chose to explicitly align their thematic areas with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, choosing indicators within each of the 17 Goals
Tracking-Progress themes

Communities can customize their themes and indicators to the data that matters most to them.


Localizing the Sustainable Development Goals

Countries, regions, and communities are increasingly using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework to describe their development status and plans. Their inclusive, holistic, and adaptable nature make the SDGs easy to connect to community priorities while adopting shared ambitions and terminology used by people around the globe.

SDGs wheel

The Sustainable Development Goals have been embraced around their world as a common but customizable framework.

Tracking-Progress sites were designed to assist this step of localization, sharing data that connect abstract global targets with recognizable, actionable local challenges. Whether using thematic areas pulled from the 17 SDGs or including descriptions that highlight an indicator’s place in the SDG framework, the tool makes it easy for communities to engage in the global drive toward the 2030 deadline to achieve the Goals. Through our growing Tracking-Progress network, communities with similar challenges can share lessons learned or identify areas for collaboration. Comparisons with other communities in the same country or internationally can provide outside validation of progress and stimulate a competitive spirit between communities. Donors and development partners can also use the data provided through Tracking-Progress to track the impact of their work and identify new partners.