Communicating to Different Audiences

The ideal indicator would be one that communicates for a specific purpose to a range of audiences. This may not be achievable, given the diversity of stakeholders. Conceiving tools for policymaking entails different approaches to indicator construction, issue selection, and depth of information provided than are needed in developing instruments to provide general information for citizens.

Despite widespread acknowledgment of the problems of indicator acceptance and use, the ways in which indicator methods and design should be improved to overcome these difficulties remain unclear. Indicator developers tend to ignore these constraints, preferring to work toward enhancing the capacities of audiences to comprehend complex information. Although capacity building is the long-term goal, immediate efforts are needed to develop robust means of communicating the messages carried by indicator initiatives in comprehensive ways. Despite the usefulness of simplified communication interfaces (e.g., dashboards, barometers, headline indicators, and indices), the majority of indicator development activity still concentrates on improving the quality of individual indicators, with sometimes marginal usability for decision making.

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