Monitoring Well-being and Changing Environmental Conditions in Coastal Communities: Development of an Assessment Method.
Author(s): Dillard, M.K., T.L. Goedeke, S. Lovelace and A. Orthmeyer
NCCOS Center: NCCOS HQ (http://coastalscience.noaa.gov)
Name of Publisher: NOAA
Place of Publication: Silver Spring, MD
Publication Type: NOAA Technical Memoranda
Date of Publication: 2013
Reference Information: NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 174
Extent of Work: 176 pp.
Abstract: The intersection of social and environmental forces is complex in coastal communities. The well-being of a coastal
community is caught up in the health of its environment, the stability of its economy, the provision of services
to its residents, and a multitude of other factors. With this in mind, the project investigators sought to develop an
approach that would enable researchers to measure these social and environmental interactions. The concept
of well-being proved extremely useful for this purpose. Using the Gulf of Mexico as a regional case study, the
research team developed a set of composite indicators to be used for monitoring well-being at the county-level.
The indicators selected for the study were: Social Connectedness, Economic Security, Basic Needs, Health,
Access to Social Services, Education, Safety, Governance, and Environmental Condition. For each of the 37
sample counties included in the study region, investigators collected and consolidated existing, secondary data
representing multiple aspects of objective well-being. To conduct a longitudinal assessment of changing wellbeing
and environmental conditions, data were collected for the period of 2000 to 2010. The team focused on
the Gulf of Mexico because the development of a baseline of well-being would allow NOAA and other agencies
to better understand progress made toward recovery in communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill. However, the broader purpose of the project was to conceptualize and develop an approach that could be
adapted to monitor how coastal communities are doing in relation to a variety of ecosystem disruptions and associated
interventions across all coastal regions in the U.S. and its Territories. The method and models developed
provide substantial insight into the structure and signifi cance of relationships between community well-being and
environmental conditions. Further, this project has laid the groundwork for future investigation, providing a clear
path forward for integrated monitoring of our nation’s coasts. The research and monitoring capability described
in this document will substantially help counties, local organizations, as well state and federal agencies that are
striving to improve all facets of community well-being.
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