I bring up the success of our 2022 Maple Valley project every time I talk about ComEngage and our community surveys. That makes it an obvious topic for a blog post about the maturity of our best-in-class community survey dashboarding platform.
First, a little background:
Dashboards & Public Sector Surveys
Before I came to ComEngage, most of my work was B2B market research in the green building sector. Then the consulting firm I worked for got purchased and integrated into a larger firm focused on the public sector. I conducted an internal competitive analysis to learn about market research in that space – consulting for local governments and government agencies.
One thing I wished we could have developed at that time was a dashboard, adding the capability and then refining the process. I saw what cities were doing with transparency and open data portals, but I also realized that:
- Developing a strong dashboard system required a great deal of time and investment, and
- You need to find the right software first.
While the concepts are similar, big data dashboards like PowerBI and Tableau are unsuitable for primary research and survey data. Some products that attempt to fit the bill are little more than online PowerPoint slides. They aren’t interactive, searchable, downloadable in multiple formats, etc.
Displayr, designed by researchers for researchers, is all those things and more. As Chief Solutions Officer Nathan Wiggin says. “It plays nice. It’s compatible with just about any method of collecting data and incredibly powerful. If you can figure out how to code it, it can do it. It’s versatile, with tons of capabilities embedded. It can do just about anything.”
Smooth Sailing in Maple Valley
Now that I’m with ComEngage, I find myself working for a company where public sector research and insights are the core business, where they have put the time and the resources into developing that dashboarding capacity, and where they did choose the right technology platform. By mid-2022, when we took on the Maple Valley project, ComEngage had repeated the process enough that Nate and his team had worked out the kinks, developed muscle memory, and built a fully streamlined process.
We won this project after I had been with ComEngage long enough to participate in running two community survey projects from start to finish.
- The Vashon Island Solid Waste Survey for the King County Solid Waste Division, gauging support for the concept of an on-island facility concept to process organic waste into compost for resale, was unique because it revealed the rarity of all rarities – a consensus. Nearly all (96%) of the 1,106 respondents support the idea of an on-island organic waste composting facility, with 86% strongly supporting it.
- Results can be seen here: Vashon Island Solid Waste survey – Waste Monitoring Program – King County Solid Waste Division
- The full dashboard can be seen here: King County Vashon Solid Waste. The Bothell Budget Survey was cool because it was on a tight deadline, and Nate got the opportunity to demonstrate a capability he had always claimed his dashboard had in a real-life scenario. We left the survey open and collected survey data on the dashboard until the day before presenting the findings to the Council Retreat. The final report was created on time, while the data was updated automatically.
- Results can be seen here: Bothell Budget Survey Dashboard.
While both projects were complete successes, the 2022 Maple Valley Community Wide Survey of Residents was notable and unique because it ran smoothly from start to finish. As any consultant knows, this doesn’t happen without excellent client collaboration. But behind the scenes, Nate and Hanchun ran the project like a well-oiled machine. Everything worked, and they made it look easy.
We tailored Maple Valley’s community survey to address the specific topics the city needed to inform its decisions, such as re-evaluating its award-winning public safety and ranking where residents prefer new sidewalks the most.
We surveyed all Maple Valley residents, reaching out via postcards, emails and/or phone calls, and posters in public areas. Data collection was a tremendous success, with 1,544 residents representing 7% of all households participating. We got robust representation from key population segments, including residents living in multi-family housing. We were able to compare feedback from the large group of residents (28%) who moved to Maple Valley within the past five years to the opinions of long-time residents.
Nate presented the results to Council. You can view the dashboard, which includes a downloadable version of that PowerPoint report, here: (City of Maple Valley | Displayr). The full case study on our website provides more detail on the content of the results.
We held a wrap-up meeting shortly after that, but there wasn’t anything to discuss. The project unfolded remarkably smoothly, and we enjoyed working with each other. This project was a home run because it was completely successful without any stress.
If you’d like to engage in further conversation about this topic or how ComEngage can assist with your community engagement, please connect with me at Sam@ComEngage.us or book some time to chat via my calendar link.
Client Relationship / Research & Engagement Manager
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