Data that helps define Kingston

Data that helps define Kingston

Researchers create a unique, regional, and accessible website that highlights key community information for residents in the Greater Kingston Area.

By Julie Brown

February 1, 2023


Aerial view of Queen's University Campus
Aerial View of Queen's University Campus

For the past two years, researchers from Queen’s University’s Department of Geography and Planning have been meeting with municipal partners to investigate the community’s resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic. Flowing from this collaboration, they have now created and unveiled a new interactive dashboard, called Kingston IN Focus, that highlights a range of community indicators, including information about the local economy, employment, environment, housing, and cultural heritage.

“Evidence-based decision making is the hallmark of a leading city. The launch of the community data dashboard will be a critical knowledge resource as our economy emerges from the pandemic and as we use the data insights to inform greater resilience for our collective future,” says Craig Desjardins, Director, Strategy, Innovation, and Partnerships, City of Kingston.

The online platform allows community members to delve deeper into the themes, and compare local, provincial, and national data, and relies on advanced computing techniques to perform automatic updates whenever new data becomes available, allowing site visitors to reference meaningful information when exploring changes in the landscape of the Kingston area over time.

“We had been looking at this idea of a website through the lens of key indicators like the environment, housing, and public transit,” says Betsy Donald, a professor in the Department of Geography and Planning. “I had been working with Shauna Brail, an associate professor at the Institute for Management and Innovation, University of Toronto Mississauga. She was researching the impact of the pandemic on cities. Our team decided to learn from that, dig deeper, and tap into the Queen’s Centre for Advanced Computing to do some of the behind-the-scenes work and create the Kingston IN Focus dashboard website.”

Carolyn DeLoyde, a post-doctoral fellow and adjunct assistant professor with the Department of Geography and Planning helped to develop the look, feel, and functionality of the website.

“It is our regional visualizations that make our dashboard so unique. We have pie charts, line charts, and maps that are customizable, so there is something for every user. Hopefully, we can provide some benefit and help support data driven policy development, while encouraging community participation,” says Dr. DeLoyde.

“The data behind the chart is available” says Fernando Hernandez of the Centre for Advanced Computing. “Every chart has a button you can click on and contains information. It allows people to verify the data for themselves.”

Information contained on the dashboard also includes links to Kingston-centric research related to dashboard themes. Data sources for all community indicators are provided so policy makers and community members can explore additional information, independent of the dashboard.

“What I love about this is that it’s accessible to non-experts,” says Jaime McKenzie-Naish, managing director of the Kingston and Area Association of Museums, Art Galleries and Historic Sites. “Having it in one location is absolutely brilliant. I already have used it to write a grant application. I needed to know exactly what the census numbers of the population of Kingston was, which, in other previous years I have found through much hard effort and looking.”

The project has been a collaborative effort with the City of Kingston, Kingston Economic Development Corporation, Kingston and Area Association of Museums, Art Galleries and Historic Sites (KAM), the Centre for Advanced Computing (CAC), Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Queen’s University and the Department of Geography and Planning.

The website has been up and running since last fall, but Jan. 25 marked the official launch of the dashboard. Media were invited to attend a virtual webinar to learn more about the project, and experts were on hand to answer questions.

The creation of the dashboard was supported by Mitacs through the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship, and draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant (SSHRC).

Visitors are also encouraged to fill out the community engagement survey at the bottom of the website to reflect on their experience and suggest new data where they see value.

More information on the dashboard can be found in the introduction video.

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