When people think about issues in their communities, they usually frame those issues through practical questions they would like to see addressed. Is the town budget too high or too low? Are teachers doing a good job? Are the streets safe? Do emergency responders have the right training? How can traffic congestion be eased? Does the library have the best technology for patrons? Do zoning rules work the best way? Are all the people in the community getting fair access to social services?
The way that people address questions like those is to gather, share and act on information. Yet there is not much knowledge about how the parts of a community's information system work and fit together. Believing it would be useful for communities to examine how well their own information systems were performing, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation asked the Monitor Institute to explore key components of local information systems in three communities with advisory help from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. This report is the fruit of an eight-month research effort pilot testing several research methods in Macon, Philadelphia, and San Jose to probe key parts of those systems. Some of the findings, especially in surveys conducted in the communities, were notable and surprising.
Read the full report How the Public Perceives Community Information Systems on the Pew Internet & American Life Project Web site.