About the Data

San Diego Regional Quality of Life Dashboard

Is San Diego’s quality of life improving?

The Quality of Life Dashboard measures and benchmarks several environmental and economic trends throughout the region to ensure San Diego County is on a path to greater health, wealth, comfort and sustainability for current and future generations.

Overview About the Data Dashboard

Where Do We Get Our Data?

The Equinox Project partners with nonprofit organizations, government agencies and the business community throughout San Diego County, California and nationwide. These organizations provide relevant data and other information that is then combined with publicly available datasets and analyzed by Equinox researchers to determine trends occurring in the region. Equinox creates interactive charts and graphs, adds context and highlights current regional policies, practices, and partnerships focused on improving the quality of life in San Diego County. The Equinox Project is proud to have a long-standing track record of providing unbiased, apolitical information that gives a comprehensive snapshot of the region’s quality of life.

How Do We Track Indicator Performance?

The Equinox Project tracks yearly trends by determining primary datasets for each indicator, which can be found in the "What are we measuring?" portion of each page. Using the primary datasets, we calculate if the indicators have improved or worsened from the previous data year.

Unfortunately, data often lags far behind, and although we strive to collect the most up-to-date information, many times this means the most current data is two or even three years old. Therefore, we calculate trends from the previous data year, meaning the most recent year from which we have data.

Year-over-year performance can fluctuate so we highly recommend taking the time to look at the long-term trends described in the "How are we doing?" sections and visualized in the graphs and charts when applicable. If you have any comments or questions, please contact us.

Performance Icons

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Improvement of more than 1 percent

The primary dataset shows an improvement of more than 1 percent from the previous data year to the current data year. We are trending in the right direction.

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Improvement of less than 1 percent

The primary dataset shows an improvement of less than 1 percent from the previous data year to the current data year. There is a slight trend in the right direction.



The primary dataset shows no change from the previous data year to the current data year or there are equally positive and negative changes across selected datasets. 

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Worsening of less than 1 percent

The primary dataset shows a worsening of less than 1 percent from the previous data year to the current data year. There is a slight trend in the wrong direction.

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Worsening of more than 1 percent

The primary dataset shows a worsening of more than 1 percent from the previous data year to the current data year. We are trending in the wrong direction.

Equity Definitions & Terms

We recognize there are many terms that have been used to identify and describe various communities who face unequal societal burdens and have historically been excluded from decision-making processes that affect them. We have tried our best to be specific and consistent in our use of terms related to the various communities, the context, and the impacts. We would like to share the most common terms, including the ones we use on this year's Dashboard.

Disadvantaged communities -This term is used by CalEnviroScreen, referring to the top 25% most environmentally impacted census tracts/communities in the state. The census tracts included in CalEnvironscreen’s list experience higher burdens of pollution exposure and environmental effects, and contain sensitive populations and socioeconomic factors that make people more vulnerable to the impacts.

Marginalized communities - This term captures people who, for whatever reason, are denied involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural and social activities and thus they exist on the margins of society. Common reasons include age, physical or mental abilities, economic status, race or ethnicity, and access to education.

Underserved communities - This term is used as an alternative to "marginalized" or "disadvantaged" communities because it specifically calls attention to the reality that many communities have been systematically neglected. By referring to these populations as underserved, it shifts responsibility to the historical and structural lack of support, resources, and infrastructure these communities have been afforded as a result of decisions made on their behalf.

Low-income communities (of color) -This term is used with and without "of color" as communities with lower incomes are not always communities of color, however they often overlap. According to California Assembly Bill (AB) 1550, low-income communities are defined as census tracts with median household incomes at or below 80 percent of the statewide median income or with median household incomes at or below the threshold designated as low income by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Advocacy groups and community-based organizations tend to focus their efforts on people who live in low-income communities in San Diego because these areas experience harsh environmental impacts and have less resources to address them.

Communities of concern - This term has been used and popularized specifically in the San Diego region. It is intended to represent a diverse cross-section of populations and communities that could be considered disadvantaged or vulnerable to economic, environmental, and social impacts.

Priority populations - Local and state agencies, such as the California Air Resources Board, are starting to use this terminology as it highlights the populations that need the most support. The term is inclusive of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households.

Vulnerable populations - This term is more broadly used to discuss populations that are vulnerable to climate impacts. This includes low-income communities, but also expands to cover elderly, children, and immunocompromised individuals of any race or socioeconomic status. Due to lack of resources or presence of biological sensitivities (such as age or health conditions), these populations have a harder time adapting to climate impacts and are more at risk of experiencing adverse effects.

How Often is Data Being Updated?

The Equinox Project performance indicators are updated annually. Additional data updates can be done more frequently with funding support or under contract in response to a specific client request. If you are interested in commissioning further research, please contact Christiana DeBenedict at cdebenedict@sandiego.edu.

Organizations Consulted

We also thank these organizations that provided data, recommendations and local context for the Dashboard.