What Should Local Governments Do First with Community Survey Results?
December 17, 2020
-Survey Q&A Video with Angelica Wedell-
Now is the moment you have been waiting for. You received your community survey results! But now what is the first thing you should do with those data?
In this episode of Survey Q&A, Polco Vice President of National Engagement Matt Fulton discusses what local governments should do after they get data back from their community survey.
Understand Your Community Survey Results
“The first thing you should do after getting results is to review the data,” said Fulton. “Get a good understanding of what the data says, what it doesn’t say, and the things you want to follow up with.”
One helpful feature of The National Community Survey (The NCS) is benchmarking against other communities. This can help you gain perspective on how your community is doing relative to others.
Involve key departments and the Council in reviewing the data. They will help inform decisions based on the results.
Take Action. Then Communicate.
Based on the issues and trends that emerge from the survey report, local government leaders can decide what to focus on.
Once you make a decision about how you plan to take action based on the data, communicate to your residents.
“Communities are always under the radar about transparency and accountability … Getting info out to the community about the what and why of your decisions is so important,” said Fulton.
An Iterative Process
“The real value of doing survey work is to do it all the time,” said Fulton. “Getting input on policy issues on a regular basis not only allows you to stay on top of the values residents and businesses have, but it also allows you to track over time whether or not you are improving.”
Fulton recommends local governments assess their performance at least annually. This gives communities a reasonable amount of time to demonstrate whether they are meeting metrics in their Strategic Plan. Annual surveys help communities to track their progress over the course of years.
Fulton also recommends communities do informal polls or surveys in between Community Surveys. This allows local governments to continuously get a pulse on resident values.
“Doing survey work throughout the policy life-cycle is really important,” said Fulton. “This helps residents put a context around what the council and staff are dealing with. This continuous engagement builds trust and relationships. In the end, it builds resilience. A resilient community typically will be better off.”