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 PHLsurvey.com 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.