Pew Study on Relationship of Perception of Community Openness to Civic Satisfaction

Pew has released a nice study on the relationship of perception of community openness to civic satisfaction.  Press release here.  Study here. Gov20,govfresh blog here.

From the Introduction:

  • Those who think local government does well in sharing information are also more likely to be satisfied with other parts of civic life such as the overall quality of their community and the performance of government and other institutions, as well as the ability of the entire information environment in their community to give them the information that matters.
  • Broadband users are sometimes less satisfied than others with community life . That raises the possibility that upgrades in a local information system might produce more critical, activist citizens.
  • Social media like Facebook and Twitter are emerging as key parts of the civic landscape and mobile connectivity is beginning to affect people’s interactions with civic life . Some 32% of the internet users across the three communities get local news from social networking site; 19% from blogs; 7% from Twitter. And 32% post updates and local news on their social networking sites.
  • If citizens feel empowered, communities get benefits in both directions. Those who believe they can impact their community are more likely to be engaged in civic activities and are more likely to be satisfied with their towns.

The implications for courts are obvious.  As a general matter engagement and satisfaction are inter-related.  This supports the public trust and confidence mantra.  It also should highlight that other government institutions should be willing to maintain financing levels for courts so that they can remain transparent.  At the same time, transparency will ultimately require efficiency.

Here is more on the perhaps counter-intuitive finding on broadband penetration:

Broadband users are sometimes less satisfied than others with community life. That raises the possibility that upgrades in a local information system might produce more critical, activist citizens: Perhaps the most surprising finding in the surveys was that in some circumstances, broadband users are more likely to be critical of elements of their local information ecosystem and less likely to feel that the local information system could produce information they might need.

Information does not always correlate with satisfaction — nor should it.  Think about the impact of the information revolution upon the Middle East.  This is all only just beginning, and all we can do is the best we can to open up our institutions, share information, raise expectations, and do our best to fulfill them.

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About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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