-By Angelica Wedell-
Digital engagement platform Polco and survey research firm National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) are pleased to announce their merger. Together, NRC and Polco offer the best in civic engagement through resident surveys and communication technology to local governments and other public sector entities.
“Community leaders need good data, both to make immediate decisions and to measure performance over time. We are bringing together two companies, under one roof, that have each defined public engagement,” said CEO Nick Mastronardi. “It’s time to expand the ways organizations communicate with their stakeholders and serve their needs.”
NRC and Polco have combined at a pivotal time. Shoehorning tech platforms into civic applications they were not designed for has led to increased polarization and fractured communications. “Now, more than ever, local government officials must understand residents’ needs,” said Tom Miller, current Polco Board Director and Founder of NRC. “City staff have become more tech savvy and reliant on data. They need better and more accessible information to succeed in creating the livable communities that residents deserve and expect.”
Mastronardi agrees that Polco and NRC’s joint services are essential for today’s decision-makers. “Well designed platforms, structured communications, and quality data can bring communities back together and also highlight new opportunities for cities to increase resident satisfaction and quality of life. There are a lot of thoughtful people who are busy and can't always make it to a town hall or city council meeting. But now they can lend their voices in a civil, organized way.”
Both companies share the mission to help communities move forward through resident input, which has motivated National Research Center over the last 25 years. NRC has become a thought-leader in the survey industry and the gold standard for public opinion research and evaluation methodology.
NRC staff are leading experts and experienced practitioners. They are authors of numerous articles and books, and public speakers who present research findings and facilitate trainings for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the American Evaluation Association (AEA), and National League of Cities (NLC), to name a few.
Hundreds of public-sector organizations across the country use NRC surveys for performance measurement, budgeting, strategic planning, and decision-making. NRC’s nationwide, benchmark database holds hundreds of thousands of resident opinions – making it the largest of its kind.
NRC is also a long-standing Strategic Partner of ICMA, a charter member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative, a Corporate Partner of the Alliance for Innovation (AFI), and has been named a Top Local Government Vendor by Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL).
The firm will continue to provide clients with top-quality survey research, consulting, and benchmark comparisons. Now the merger creates new opportunities for NRC to produce actionable results in convenient and innovative ways.
Polco represents the next generation of civic engagement and communication technology. The four-year-old technology company tripled in size over the last two years. They have worked with cities in more than 23 states.
Polco’s online platform takes policy polling to the next level. Their unique verification capabilities and key design features add reliability to results and foster civility. Polco produces organized data, dashboards, and maps in real-time for city officials. The platform is especially useful for clients with immediate decision-making needs, including local and state governments, special districts, schools and universities, and nonprofit organizations.
Polco also takes special measures to preserve respondent privacy. After verifying respondents, Polco only shares aggregated, de-identified results with city officials. Individual level data are never shared with the city or any third party.
This award-winning civic engagement platform has been profiled in numerous publications, including Governing Magazine. Polco is also the only technology firm ever to be named a Savings and Solutions Enterprise Partner for the National League of Cities (NLC).
Polco staff have strong backgrounds in city management, public policy, communications technology, data, and software engineering. The team itself has been a major component to Polco’s ingenuity and fast-growing success. “We are committed to continue working hard to put the best products, technologies, and services into the hands of city officials. We truly want to give them and their residents a great experience, and to empower communities to take next steps confidently,” Mastronardi expressed.
Moving ahead, National Research Center and Polco will continue to provide the staple services and features they are known for. Current surveys being conducted by NRC will remain unchanged, and clients will keep the same access to the Polco platform.
Now NRC and Polco are looking toward the future. Their combined R&D team is already working on digital reports, interactive dashboards, new uses of Polco’s online engagement tool, and other innovations.
Miller observed, “Both companies saw clearly the synergies of merging, as the world of survey research and resident engagement are melding. Rapid policy sounding and long-term performance trends are equally essential to the success of our public-sector clients.”
Polco and NRC plan for new and expanded services to make surveys and polls easier to administer, promote faster feedback, and produce deeper analytics. Cities, towns, and counties may also be able to host two-way communications more frequently.
As the technology and survey industries evolve, Polco and NRC promise to move forward with the needs of their public-sector and non-profit clients first in mind.
“Some of these changes are inevitable,” said Mastronardi. “We are committed to doing it the right way that's best for cities and residents.”