What Is an Indicator

Indicators are the building blocks of the equity atlas maps. This page explains indicators and their role within an equity atlas.
Indicator Data
Access to quality education Average levels of teacher experience
Access to transportation Proximity to public transit stops
Access to food Proximity to supermarkets
Access to economic opportunity Density of low-skill jobs that pay a living wage
More examples of indicators for the Regional Equity Atlas 2.0. (PDF)


  • What is an indicator? An indicator is a tool that measures the existence or condition of something. Indicators can be used to assess current conditions and to track progress towards goals.
  • What is the relationship between indicators and data? Indicators are measured using data. The measurements for a given indicator can be based on a single data source or compiled using multiple data sources. In some cases, the available data do not allow us to measure an indicator directly, so a proxy or substitute must be used.
  • What role do indicators play in an equity atlas? Equity is a complex concept that encompasses an inter-related web of social, economic, and environmental conditions. We can’t measure equity directly, but we can identify indicators that, taken together, enable us to assess the equity conditions in a particular geographic area. Examples of such indicators include access to economic opportunity, quality education, housing, food, transportation, a healthy environment, services, health care, and other factors essential for meeting basic needs and advancing health and well-being.