I noted an interesting piece of statistics on a city’s dashboard recently. It is on the number of potholes filled for the year. The report was for a city in the northern part of the world. It is a common scene to see potholes over the winter months due to the extreme temperature. I was a little puzzled when I saw that, trying to figure out the message the city was trying to convey.
As a driver, I understand that a deep pothole can cause significant damage to a car. It could be hazardous to pedestrians too. But why the number of potholes filled?
By reporting on the number of potholes filled, one gets the sense that a high number implies the road repair crew has been kept busy. The information is useful for resource management at the city.
For the drivers, they care more about how quickly the potholes are filled once they are reported. In choosing what to include in a dashboard, assess whether the data carries any meaningful message. Otherwise, it is just a number most can do without.
Think about the audience when you determine what to include in a dashboard. If the data is not useful, exclude it.