New Online Survey Platform To Gauge Public's View Of Fairfax Police

FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — Fairfax County Police introduced a new online platform on Monday that will allow the department to solicit anonymous feedback from the community to measure how well the police are doing their job.

“You cannot accurately measure the community’s feelings about its police department, based on tweets, retweets, likes and Facebook posts,” Chief Kevin Davis said Monday, during a news conference at Public Safety Headquarters. “ZenCity’s Blockwise product gives us critical data about community sentiment, perceptions, and satisfaction levels.”

Blockwise uses anonymous surveys to supplement data collected from existing feedback sources to gauge the public’s feelings about their safety and opinion of the police department’s performance. The technology is already being used by the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., as well as law enforcement agencies in Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, and Colorado Springs.

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“We fundamentally believe that you manage what you measure,” said Michael Simon, Zencity’s chief strategy officer, during Monday’s news conference. “And if you can’t measure it, it’s very, very hard to manage.”

Zencity has already been collecting survey data from residents living in the county’s eight police districts.

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“We know from the census what each of these regions looks like, by race, by ethnicity, by age, by gender, by education, by income level, by language,” Simon said. “Starting on June 1, just a couple of days ago, we are serving digital advertisements to all types of devices across the county.”

The surveys are being distributed through digital ads on news websites, social media platforms, and other applications. Residents have been receiving surveys in English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese Urdu, Telugu, or Amharic, depending on the language setting of the device they were using.

“You’ll see an ad and the link that your device is set to. You’ll see a short survey. It takes about two minutes to complete. It’s opt-in and the residents of the community will be able to provide their feedback,” Simon said. “It is completely anonymous. Anyone should should feel free to offer their feedback. The feedback cannot be linked to an individual, and that data will be collated, analyzed and inside this agency to allow us to be much more responsive.”

Over the last year, FCPD has been using a community performance contract with My90, which allowed the department to send out post incident surveys to solicit feedback from the public about its performance.

Of the more than 10,000 responses the department received in that first year, according to Davis:

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“That’s all very important for us to improve our performance, but what about the way a community feels about its police department?” Davis said. “What about the very reality and perception of what we partnered with?”

FCPD will use Blockwise’s anonymous surveys to measure how safe residents feel and their perception of the department’s performance. That information, combined with the My90 data, will help the department be more responsive to the public’s concerns and better direct its resources to reducing crime, according to Davis.

“This is a digital platform where we reach out to our community,” Davis said. “And the way to ensure that we have a more representative voice in the community is to reach as many people as humanly possible.”

Once Blockwise gathers enough initial feedback, the information will be available on the FCPD Open Data Portal for residents to review.

Also see…

Fairfax Chief’s Ban On Recording Causes Reston Leader To Resign

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