Iowa City will begin mailing community survey forms to 2,200 households on Sept. 22, in order to gauge public opinion and collect general information about the city and its communities.
“It’s a pretty broad range of topics, a lot of them having to do with city services,” Simon Andrew, assistant to the city manager, explained. Residents will be able to rate the services provided by the police and fire departments, as well as other city agencies. The survey will also focus on broader issues. “Friendliness of your neighborhood, housing affordability, for example,” Andrew said.
Instructions for the survey will be offered in English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic and French, and a Spanish version of the survey will be available online.
The survey is being conducted for the city by the National Research Center (NRC), a Colorado-based company that conducts research on policy issues for governments and various public sector organizations. The NRC randomly selected the 2,200 households for the survey from U.S. Postal Service lists.
According to the NRC, this survey has been used by more than 350 municipalities in 44 states.
“The survey is a tool they use nationally. Those questions are identical across the country, although we do have the ability to add some custom questions,” Andrew said. “One of the benefits of having a standardized instrument is that you can make some comparisons [between Iowa City and similar cities]. Also, having the same questions as we conduct surveys over time allows us to identify trends in our community.”
Some of the questions the city added to the standard NRC form are designed to gather information for the nationwide Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating (STAR) Communities program. The STAR program evaluates a community’s efforts to achieve sustainability by examining data in a variety of categories, such as the use of renewable energy, median household income, high school graduation rates and access to healthy food.
Iowa City and Johnson County both participate in the STAR program, along with six other cities in Iowa. Last year, Iowa City received the highest score in the state from STAR.