Why engage citizens in wellbeing data?

This blog by Salema Gulbahar leads up to the Wikiprogress online discussion on engaging citizens in well-being and progress statistics. This post explores why we should engage citizen in well-being data and how this is being done.

Are we measuring the right things?

Are our lives getting better? Data and statistics for measuring well-being and progress should answer these questions and enable us to understand what drives the well-being of people and nations and what needs to be done in order to achieve greater progress for all.

“Give citizens the wellbeing data they need,” says the ‘Policy and Wellbeing report commissioned by the Legatum Institute, as better data on well-being can increase peoples choices and ability to make an informed choice. When young people make a choice about their career path or a job, they know what they can earn and what they have to do. Wouldn’t it be nice if they had data on how that job may impact their well-being?

If citizens, governments, schools and employers had better data on progress and well-being and used this data, then decisions made about which services to fund, cut and develop would be different. For example, governments would focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners and not on long prison sentences.

Enabling and engaging citizens in well-being data will allow society as a whole to make more informed decisions and ensure that we measure what matters!

How can citizens get involved?

Citizen engagement in well-being data can range from citizens being actively engaged in a) politics and policy making where they can influence the agenda and what is measured, b) the feedback loop of services they are using via questionnaires, and c) being active user and producers of information and data via simple mobile applications. Below are a few examples:

The Santa Monica Wellbeing Project (video above) in California is a city-wide initiative which engages its citizen in well-being data, throughout the life cycle of the project by i) defining well-being as it relates to the community, ii) creating a new tool to measure well-being in the community and iii) working with the entire community to actively improve the conditions needed for people to thrive.

In 2013, a ‘friends and family test was introduced by National Health Service in the United Kingdom where patients were asked within 48 hours of using a service if they would ‘recommend this service to friends and family’. Improvements in services can been seen over time and citizens feel more empowered, as well. Results are now available.

Three of my neighbours were burgled over a few days, whilst they slept in their homes. I found out when the third and last victim decided to post a little note on everyone’s door. So when I read about the United Sates www.crimemapping.com and the mobile application which allows law enforcement agencies and citizens to provide real time data on crime, I could see how this tool would make a real difference to my well-being.

Citizen engagement has the potential to drive the demand, supply and use of well-being and progress data and statistics. Governments, employers and schools can enhance the well-being of citizens by providing them with information about the relationship between everyday choices and subjective well-being.

Find out more and ensure your voice is heard by participating in the discussion (details below).

Salema Gulbahar
Wikiprogress Coordinator
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Wikiprogress and partners invite you to participate in an online discussion from 22 – 30 April 

  • How can citizen engagement improve the development and use of well-being and progress statistics?
  • Do you have any examples of good practice in citizen engagement in well-being and progress statistics?
  • What role can technology – such as mobile apps or interactive web platforms – play in improving citizen engagement with well-being and progress statistics?



To leave a comment, click here and scroll to the section entitled “Contribute!”


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