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Published: Thursday, 7/9/2009

Internet site shows Ohio quality of life

BY MARK NIQUETTE
COLUMBUS DISPATCH

COLUMBUS - Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner fulfilled a 2006 campaign pledge yesterday by unveiling an online tool offering access to information about Ohioans, their counties, and their state.

It includes data for each county compiled from 18 state and federal sources about the economy, public safety, and other areas affecting quality of life.

For example, it's possible to review and compare poverty statistics, foreclosure rates, and other economic indicators over time, plus data for 300 other indicators, even including the number of library visits in each county.

The site - www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/betterLives.aspx - is designed for researchers, nonprofit groups applying for grants, students, and state and local governments considering important public-policy decisions.

The data will be updated as new information becomes available, and other sources may be added depending on demand.

"Essentially, we look at this as a resource that will provide Ohioans with quick and easy access to information about the issues that impact all the communities in the state," Ms. Brunner said of her "Better Lives, Better Ohio" initiative.

Pursuing the initiative was one of four major goals Ms. Brunner set for the office, including restoring trust in Ohio elections.

Her office held community forums to solicit input about what data should be made available on the site, and the computer work to generate it was done in-house, Ms. Brunner said.

The total cost was about $100,000, mostly to hire Michelle Hussong, who has a doctorate in sociology and previously worked for the Ohio Department of Education, to oversee the effort, Ms. Brunner said.

The online tool can be found at www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/

betterLives.aspx.



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