Collecting community sentiment to inform and create a comprehensive plan

The City of Lynn’s planning department sought to create the city’s first ever comprehensive plan in 2021. The idea behind the plan is to create a document that will serve as the 20 year vision for the city and guide future development & investments in infrastructure. Lynn’s planning department determined that this vision should be created in collaboration with the community. They wanted community voices to not only be heard but to also inform the comprehensive plan. In partnership with co:census, the City of Lynn’s planning department launched a SMS survey in 8 languages, leveraged our analytics dashboard to understand the voices of over 900 community members, and received further data analysis support through our Behavioral Insights Reporting & Impact Report.

Starting from scratch

As Lynn’s first ever comprehensive plan, the planning department had no foundation to work off of. The team understood that a “build it & they’ll come” approach to this plan wasn’t going to cut it and would result in a vision that wasn’t representative of Lynn’s extremely diverse community. As a result, the planning department decided that the first step of this journey was listening and launched an omnichannel survey campaign to hear from community members.

Developing a thoughtful and intentional engagement strategy

Any agency that wants to conduct community engagement needs a thoroughly planned & intentional engagement strategy. Given Lynn’s diverse community, the planning department was aware of the importance of creating intentional engagement and created a robust promotional plan to advertise their survey. The promotional plan outlined strategic partners (such as cultural centers, delis, & pharmacies) to drop in-language marketing collateral. Additionally, there was a coordinated digital & mailing campaign through communication channels that community members were familiar with & had previously opted in to.

Transforming raw data into trends & sentiments

The City of Lynn launched a multilingual survey with co:census that engaged 48 community members via SMS. After importing over 850 responses from digital & paper surveys, the team at Lynn was able to leverage the co:census dashboard to see top trends & sentiment from their raw data. Our top trends feature combined with sentiment analysis allowed the planning department to understand what people loved about the city and what people wished was different.

In addition to these insights, our research team put together a Behavioral Insights Report & Impact Report. Our Behavioral Insights Report is designed to provide a targeted and succinct analysis of data by leveraging a semi-automated algorithm that aims to understand the psych-social context of responses while our Impact Report is designed to be leveraged by clients as collateral to turnkey co:census findings to internal stakeholders in a digestible format (see example here).

Looking ahead

The City of Lynn’s planning department remains in the preliminary outreach phase of developing their comprehensive plan (Vision Lynn). They plan to leverage the insights gleaned from their first survey & co:census reporting to launch another survey to get more granular detail from community members. Once preliminary outreach is completed, the planning team will begin drafting Vision Lynn with community voices woven into the vision. Keep up with Vision Lynn here.

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