It’s #ELGLHaverford time! We’re pleased to recognize the top 25 local government companies as nominated by ELGL members. Learn more about the Haverford Award, and then check out our website every day this week to learn about five new companies added to the 2020 Haverford Award list.
- Industry sector(s): Surveys
- Minority/Woman Owned Business: No
- Shared content/expertise with ELGL: No
- Participated in ELGL events/activities: Yes
Describe your work and interactions with the nominee – how have you worked with them, on what projects, and in what capacity?
- In 2018, the Stillwater City Council was lamenting that they needed more civic engagement and better data to help them make decisions. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just poll our citizens? Enter FlashVote. According to the company’s website, FlashVote is a scientific data gather tool designed specifically to help government make better decisions. Bingo! We called and they walked us through the details. What I liked was that Stillwater citizens were asked to be proactive.
They had to sign up and complete surveys when available. Next up for city council was how to modify or not modify the ordinance governing backyard chickens. For a year, council had been hearing extremes from both the pro-chicken and the anti-chicken factions. They were hesitant to make a decision, so the issue lingered in limbo. In 2019, my team took this issue to FlashVote. I’ve written surveys before, but the expertise FlashVote brought to the table showed me I had a lot to learn. FlashVote asked us what data did we need to make a decision and helped us craft a solid, non-bias survey. Within 48 hours, city council was able to get off high-center.
The survey results showed that the majority of the citizens did not care about backyard chickens. In short, they wanted to limit the number of chickens and not allow roosters. No minimum requirements, no inspects or permits were needed. Both pro- and anti-chicken factions were satisfied, and more importantly, city council liked having real data. Since then, we have conducted surveys about city finances, city transportation, recycling services, quality of life, and several more. We conducted a survey to judge awareness of our three-year old commercial airline service.
The conventional wisdom was nobody knew about the service; however, we have spent a lot of time and advertising dollars on this message. We did a survey and guess what? 98 percent of our residents knew about it. That meant we were able to shift advertising dollars to other needs. Since our first survey, you can now hear citizens, city staffers and city councilors calling for FlashVote surveys. Everyone likes being able to see the same results within three days of the survey being made public.
What was the product/outcome of your relationship with the company?
- Since 2018, my team has made a lot of changes in the way the City of Stillwater conducts civic engagement. We have conducted eight surveys since Feb. 2019, and FlashVote is one that the public has come to depend on. They have even started using “FlashVote” as a verb as in “Let’s FlashVote this.”
I think the reason for this is the process if transparent. Citizens are in charge of signing up. Citizens opt to take the survey in the platform they request. Citizens can see the results at the same time as the mayor and city council. Citizens debate the results amongst themselves, but they don’t doubt the validity of the survey. As for my team and me, we can call Kevin Lyons at FlashVote and brainstorm about what we think city council or a city department is needing in the way of data.
Because FlashVote focuses on government needs, Kevin has unique expertise to guide us as a local government entity. He helps us develop questions that provide insight to help the decisions-makers make good decisions. Also, it’s called FlashVote for a reason: It’s quick. Kevin has provided us survey questionaries’ overnight. The survey takes 48 hours, and the results are made public the next day. What’s not to like?
What are three words you’d use to describe the company?
- Innovative. Service-oriented. Useful.
Describe the on-boarding process for your work with the company – either when you personally started working with them, or when your organization did. What could someone else in local government know about starting work with this company?
- On-boarding was easy. FlashVote created a dashboard for citizens to use to sign up. They also provided outreach materials that my team was able to use to get the word out. For a city of about 50,000, we need about 400 people registered. It was pretty easy to hit the number. Once we had enough people registered, we launched a survey. More people registered. It was really that simple.
What’s the most interesting or fun aspect of your work with the company?
- Kevin Lyons is always engaged in what our city needs. Phone call/Zoom meetings are lively and thought-provoking. He is truly learning what makes our city different, so he may send me articles or surveys other cities are doing because he has a relationship with us. I really feed we are in this data gathering thing together.
What is the company’s pricing structure? Please be as descriptive as possible.
- Number of surveys per year.
How has your relationship with the company evolved or changed over time? How has the company reacted to or addressed any changes that your organization has requested in the scope/focus of your work together?
- I now have a full year of surveys behind me. During the year, FlashVote has meet all of my expectations. What I appreciate is that FlashVote treats every interactions I have with them as important. It may be just a survey on backyard chickens, but it is important to us. FlashVote understands that.
Anything else to add about the company that we haven’t already asked you?
- Who doesn’t need good data? I love FlashVote.