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If your jurisdiction is seeking new practices, you already know how crucial it is to test out new ideas before implementing them. Experimenting sounds great, but conducting them successfully is easier said than done. National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) President Tom Miller explains how local governments can use survey data in experimentation.

 

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Best Practices

Use best practices. Sounds simple, right? But in our ever-changing society, best practices have a shelf life. Not all “best practices” will work well for your unique community. As a city leader, you should be thinking about how to test new policies and programs. Including the voice of the public is extremely important. How the public views their community is closely related to how they view their overall quality of life.

Baseline

First, get a baseline of resident perspective before beginning your experiment. For example, you may be considering major changes to infrastructure, like a one-way street in the central downtown business district of your city. Before testing, ask people how they feel about their ease of mobility and sense of safety in the downtown area. Then later, you will be able to compare how your experiment impacted people’s opinions of traveling through downtown.

Benchmarking

Not only can you use survey data to compare results in one area over time, but you can also compare results in multiple areas of your community. If you survey with National Research Center, Inc. (NRC), you can even compare your community to our national benchmark, derived from hundreds of thousands of resident opinions from over 500 jurisdictions across the country.

Transparency

Sharing information gathered from experimenting and survey research with the public is critical to the success of any new initiative. Transparency in local government is key to closing the communication loop, demonstrating that your organization listens to the community when making decisions and building public trust.  You can spread the word on the city website, press releases, social media and more. For more suggestions on how to publicize survey data, check back next week for another NRC Q&A.  Transparency does not only matter to your constituents.  Community leaders can contribute to the field of local government as a whole by sharing their experiences with other municipalities who may be considering the same new practices. 

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National Research Center, Inc. (NRC) is a leading full-service survey research and evaluation firm focusing on the information requirements of the public sector, including local governments, health care providers, foundations and non-profit organizations.  Visit our home on the Web at www.n-r-c.com.  Check out our media page for more news, tips and human-interest stories from NRC.

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