A New Approach to Research in the Public Sector

A recent survey caught my eye, not for the content of the survey itself, but for what it signals about a shift in the way research is conducted in the public sphere.

As it turns out, according to this survey, people favor sick leave for public employees. You’re shocked, right? But the real story is the platform: CityFeedback (full disclosure: CityFeedback is part of SurveyAnalytics, which is run by our senior contributor, Vivek Bhaskaran.) Traditional research and feedback mechanisms, particularly in the public sector (federal, state and municipal governments) have relied on the telephone. Telephone surveys conducted on the part of the government, or telephone calls that citizens would have to place in order to lodge a complaint, make a request, and so on.

CityFeedback leverages more modern approaches to collecting data from residents, including applications for mobile devices, including the iPhone and Android platforms. One of the most significant benefits of such an approach as I see it, beyond the growing preference of electronic communication over making a phone call, is the ability to capture contextual data along with the feedback (exact location, photos, etc.) Now, when a resident wants to report a pothole, they’re report is rich with contextual information that aides the city in their response. Additionally, municipalities are able to conduct more cost-effective, direct outreach to residents, gathering their views and opinions on any number of current issues.

Have you seen this sort of technology put to use in your locale? As a resident, would you want to use tools like CityFeedback to connect with your local government? Share your thoughts in the comments, or find us on Twitter (@researchaccess).

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About Joshua Hoffman

Joshua Hoffman is Technology Specialist at Microsoft and a frequent contributor to Research Access.

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