Local governments can use online polling for quick insights on how their residents feel about local issues.
Very few residents ever show up to town hall meetings, and those who do are often more opinionated on certain issues than the average citizen. While large-scale scientific community surveys are an excellent way to get a more representative view of an entire city, sometimes government leaders need quicker resident feedback. Many local governments use online community engagement platforms as an efficient way to collect faster insights.
Here are three creative examples of how local governments used Polco’s online resident engagementplatform to capture fast and efficient community member feedback on important issues.
Three Resident Feedback Examples
Community Members Had a Say in Hiring Morro Bay, California’s New Police Chief
The Police Chief’s top aim is to establish safety goals and objectives that align with community expectations and values.
“The Police Chief is clearly a symbol of [safety in Morro Bay], so we wanted to make sure that person represents the values of the community,” said former City Manager Scott Collins.
For this reason, the City of Morro Bay, California, included residents in hiring their new Police Chief when the former chief announced their retirement. They posted an online survey on Polco, and more than 160 residents responded.
Morro Bay resident responses regarding safety priorities on the police chief survey posted on Polco
Residents said recruiting and retaining officers, emergency preparedness, and addressing homelessness were the most beneficial past experiences for the new hire. They also highlighted public transparency, strategic thinking, inter-department collaboration, and inclusive outreach as valuable leadership skills. Addressing homelessness was their top safety priority. Commenters on the survey also voiced it was important to hire internally, a topic Collins had not included in the survey questions.
With help from the survey, Morro Bay successfully hired Amy Watkins internally with unanimous support from a vetted panel of police chiefs and community members.
Community Members Shaped Eagan, Minnesota’s Sustainability Initiative
Eagan’s urban forest of cedar, balsam fir, quaking aspen, and dozens of other species make the landscape special. Trees are part of the City’s identity. And residents are deeply connected to the environment.
Since 2016, The City of Eagan has conducted Polco’s The National Community Survey (The NCS). The NCS is a nationally benchmarked comparison study that shows what residents think about their community and government services.
Eagan’s NCS results revealed that two out of three Eagan residents think climate change is a real threat to their community. And nearly every resident wants the City to prioritize the natural environment.
Eagan resident responses regarding environmental priorities on the sustainability survey posted on Polco
Because residents said the natural environment is such an important priority, the City collected further resident feedback to help shape a sustainability initiative. The City asked residents what they love about our green spaces, how climate change impacts their community, and what sustainability efforts they want to prioritize.
The online poll received over 280 resident responses on Polco. Residents said they were most concerned about long droughts. The majority of residents have noticed changing weather patterns and dryer fields. Preserving the tree canopy was by far the most important climate priority, according to 68% of respondents. Land preservation and reducing energy consumption were also among the top sustainability concerns.
Slide from Gardena presentation presenting Polco survey results regarding homelessness
Gardena, California Used Resident Feedback for a New Homelessness Plan
The combined economic pressures of the pandemic, inflation, and high housing costs put significant strain on residents across the US and pushed many people onto the street. The unhoused population in Gardena, California, increased by 160% from 2018 to 2022. But they did not have any official strategy to confront the growing issue. So they surveyed their community to come up with a homelessness strategic plan.
“We wanted to get a good idea of what the community wanted homeless services to look like,” said Homeless Coordinator for the City, Dianna Espinoza. “[Our residents] have lived experience. They see the issue of homelessness in their city every day, so we really want their input on what they feel the city needs.”
Almost 200 residents responded to the online Polco survey. Around 75% of respondents said homelessness in Gardena was a moderate to extreme challenge. The survey also revealed that 84% of respondents said addressing homelessness was essential. Access to support, such as behavioral health and substance use treatment, was the top service priority, according to 81% of residents. Outreach services (63%) and affordable permanent housing (58%) were other top service priorities.
The City also conducted another online Polco survey that asked residents how they should spend over $1 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding dedicated to housing. Again mental health services were the top priority.
What input would you seek if you could ask your community anything? With online polling, local governments can get creative with what they ask their residents and receive more feedback than a town hall meeting could ever provide. Knowing what residents want guides planning and action as it did in Morro Bay, Eagan, and Gardena. Engagement through online polling aligns residents and local governments around the most important issues and leads to successful decision-making outcomes.
Get Quick Resident Feedback With Polco's Online Engagement Platform
Polco online engagement platform let’s government leaders quickly receive feedback from residents on pressing issues. Resident verification ensures respondents live in your community. You can also feel confident any personal information is safe and protected. Connect with one of our engagement expertsto see how online polling can help your organization collect community input to guide action.