City seeks feedback from residents

When you call 911 to re­port a crime, do the po­lice re­spond right away?


When you call 911 to re­port a crime, do the po­lice re­spond right away?

After a snowstorm, do the plow trucks clear your street promptly?

Does your loc­al re­cre­ation cen­ter keep neigh­bor­hood kids act­ive and out of trouble?

Do your com­plaints about city ser­vices seem­ingly fall on deaf ears?

An on­go­ing City Hall sur­vey seeks to quanti­fy res­id­ents’ re­sponses to those ques­tions and many oth­ers re­gard­ing the city’s per­form­ance of routine pub­lic ser­vices. But folks will have only two more weeks to be heard.

The Phil­adelphia Res­id­ent Sur­vey 2016-17 will close for good on Feb. 15. The Of­fice of the May­or in­tro­duced the sur­vey on­line and in prin­ted form last fall in part­ner­ship with the Temple Uni­versity In­sti­tute for Sur­vey Re­search. The city is pay­ing Temple $32,000 for the pro­ject.

An ini­tial sur­vey phase began in mid-Septem­ber and con­tin­ued through Oc­to­ber, but the res­ults were prob­lem­at­ic. White, wealthy people com­prised a ma­jor­ity of the 7,000 re­spond­ents.

“It was not rep­res­ent­at­ive of the city. It was primar­ily white in­di­vidu­als and high­er-in­come in­di­vidu­als. We wanted to make sure all com­munit­ies and voices are heard, so we de­cided to re­launch it on Janu­ary 8,” said An­gelina Ruffin, the city’s dir­ect­or of per­form­ance man­age­ment and deputy chief ad­min­is­tra­tion of­ficer.

Not­with­stand­ing the demo­graph­ic an­om­alies, ini­tial feed­back was strong.

“We ac­tu­ally had a great re­sponse. It was al­most 7,000 people who re­spon­ded, which was the largest that I’ve seen of any city that has con­duc­ted one in the last two years,” Ruffin said. “We’re go­ing to far ex­ceed that now, we’re hop­ing.”

The re­sponse was geo­graph­ic­ally di­verse too, with rep­res­ent­a­tion from each of the city’s 50-plus ZIP codes. Yet, or­gan­izers want to make sure that they have an ad­equate sample size from each neigh­bor­hood in the city, rather than just a few re­sponses from cer­tain areas.

“I think what’s im­port­ant is that from liv­ing in Philly, we know that dif­fer­ent parts of the city get dif­fer­ent at­ten­tions. And we want to high­light, to take a deep­er dive in­to the data by neigh­bor­hood and by ZIP code so that it’s more mean­ing­ful,” Ruffin said, “so that we really know what are the dis­par­it­ies across the city.”

Ruffin’s of­fice is not re­leas­ing pre­lim­in­ary find­ings from the first phase of the sur­vey be­cause all of the new data will be fol­ded in­to the ex­ist­ing set.

To re­spond, res­id­ents need only vis­it the PHLsur­ web­site. A drop-down menu at the top of the page al­lows the user to view the ques­tions in Eng­lish or Span­ish. It takes about 10 minutes to com­plete.

After some pre­lim­in­ary ques­tions, the meat of the sur­vey fea­tures a series of de­part­ment-spe­cif­ic pages. Re­spond­ents are asked to as­sess pub­lic safety, streets and san­it­a­tion, parks and re­cre­ation, neigh­bor­hood de­vel­op­ment, eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment, health and hu­man ser­vices, along with com­munity ser­vices.

Then it asks the re­spond­ent to rate his or her top three pri­or­it­ies for ways the city can im­prove the ser­vices it provides to res­id­ents. Two more sec­tions fo­cus spe­cific­ally on the po­lice de­part­ment and 311 sys­tem.

The sur­vey wraps up with some demo­graph­ics-re­lated ques­tions and an op­por­tun­ity for the taker to opt-in for par­ti­cip­a­tion in fu­ture fo­cus groups. A sep­ar­ate opt-in fea­ture al­lows re­spond­ents to sign up for ad­di­tion­al Temple-or­gan­ized sur­veys that may or may not in­volve city gov­ern­ment.

Sur­vey takers can also sub­mit their names and con­tact in­form­a­tion to enter a draw­ing for a $100 gift card. Those who are un­able to ac­cess the sur­vey via the web­site should call 215-204-5858 for a prin­ted copy.