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Forecasting future needs in Scott County

Comprehending the current and future needs of 115,000 residents can be difficult, but the Scott County Office of Public Affairs in Minnesota took on that challenge--with the help of some Web survey technology.

According to Brian Hanninen, management analyst with the Office of Public Affairs, the goal of the county's 2030 Comprehensive Plan survey was to learn how government groups could work together for greater efficiency and what services would be of greatest interest to the community, which consists of 50,000 households scattered throughout eight cities and 11 townships in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Hanninen had been using technology from Inquisite since 2002 to capture constituent feedback and decided to use it for the survey as well.

"The expansive geographic nature of Scott County creates certain challenges for our office, as the needs of our city dwellers are vastly different from those of our rural residents," says Hanninen. "By leveraging Inquisite for the 2030 Comprehensive Plan survey, we were able to poll our populace to determine everything from how our current land owners are using their land today and what they plan to do with it in the future, to what recreational programs our rural communities would like to see implemented, and to identify any specific environmental concerns."

The solution can perform cross-tabulation functions--a capability that allows county officials to see how respondents answered specific questions. For example, Scott County could identify specific geographic trends and determine how people from the rural areas responded vs. those from the cities.

Adds Hanninen, "[The system's] statistical reporting capabilities are a huge benefit for us, as they have enabled us to recognize the unique needs of our residents. This is particularly true for our rural population who rely on Scott County to provide some of their basic municipal services. Looking 23 years into the future can be a daunting effort, but the staff at Office of Public Affairs realized that the right technology would help to accomplish our goal. Using it, we can hear the voice of the people and hopefully implement changes that will make Scott County an even stronger community in 2030."

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