The City of Oakley announced via Facebook that it has sent out 500 Citizen Surveys at random to residents of Oakley which should be returned by February 24, 2012. While it could be argued why just 500 people get a say, at least its a proactive measure to gain feedback from the community.
The Facebook messages said the following:
“City surveys went out today to 500 Oakley residents who were randomly selected to receive the survey soliciting their help to inform various aspects of City operations. If you receive a survey, please fill it out and return it promptly.”
Upon request, I was supplied with a copy of the survey by Nancy Marquez, Assistant to the City Manager, but was told I could not respond because I was not selected at random.
The questions are broken down into categories that include:
- General Information
- Customer Service
- Communication – Public Information
- City Service & City Livability
Here is a copy of the Survey: City Survey Sample-1
A couple of things stood out in the survey other than it being long (4-pages). There seemed to be a focus on Immigration with an odd mention asking about the “You, Me, We = Oakley” initiative. Why this program included and not others? I think it’s a great initiative, but does not need to be included in this survey as it was a grant funded program, not a City created program.
If this was included, why not a question on the Oakley Chamber of Commerce or other group?
For questions 17-19, the city fails to identify the term “immigrant”. Are we talking about illegal or legal immigrants into the city? Based on how it’s being defined, the city will get far right or far left input and distort the answer—besides, this is a Federal and State issue, not a local one.
Another interesting question was No 12. It asked “how satisfied are you with the City’s effort to communication with its residents”. This is tied into question 11 which is how residents receive their information—my personal opinion is if the papers are doing a poor job covering Oakley, the void needs to be made up somehow.
Question 15 is interesting because the response will depend on where one lives in Oakley as it asks how safe do you feel in Oakley. This answer will be determined based off who replies and from what area—which makes it flawed.
While I can appreciate the attempt to get feedback, I highly doubt this method will provide accurate feedback. Using a 20% rule, at best, they will get just 100 surveys returned. 10% return rate is just 50 surveys.
I hope I am wrong, but I believe they will get a 2% return which is just 10 surveys which will then speak for 35,000 residents? I say 2% this because there is no draw or benefit for people to reply. This would have been a fabulous opportunity to work with the Oakley Chamber of Commerce to include a raffle ticket upon submission of the survey for a prize.
In the future, I would encourage an electronic survey open to all residents where the link will be provided in an email blast— the goal is to make a submittable as easy on the residents as possible to submit. If the city is worried about duplicate submissions, tie it to an address or other form of identification such as an IP address.
An even easier way to get surveys completed is through a little extra work at a grass roots level. Staff could attend local events such as a high school sporting event with a booth seeking out residents to complete a survey. Or, simply put a booth outside a grocery store, Black Bear Diner, or other high traffic area in Oakley.
Nice effort, but I urge the City to try again in how it collects its data while not limiting who receives the opportunity to reply.