How the Public Perceives Community Information Systems

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Studies in three cities show that if people believe their local government shares information well, they also feel good about their town and its civic institutions
Author Organization
Pew Research Centers and Monitor Institute
Author Organization URL
Publication Date
Communities, Journalism, Media Innovation
Macon, Philadelphia, San Jose


The availability and use of reliable Information is critical to any community issue. Yet there is not much knowledge about how the parts of a community’s information system work and fit together. This report explores key components of local information systems in three communities, and was a by-product of an eight‐month research effort pilot testing several research methods in Macon, Philadelphia, and San Jose to develop a community information toolkit.



Download an Excel sheet with topline results from original survey questions here.

Report Partners: Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell, Pew Internet Project, Tony Siesfeld, Monitor Institute, Mayur Patel, Knight Foundation


· Those who think local government does well in sharing information are also more likely to be satisfied with other parts of civic life such as the overall quality of their community and the performance of government and other institutions, as well as the ability of the entire information environment in their community to give them the information that matters.

· Broadband users are sometimes less satisfied than others with community life. That raises the possibility that upgrades in a local information system might produce more critical, activist citizens.

· Social media like Facebook and Twitter are emerging as key parts of the civic landscape and mobile connectivity is beginning to affect people’s interactions with civic life. Some 32% of the internet users across the three communities get local news from social networking site; 19% from blogs; 7% from Twitter. And 32% post updates and local news on their social networking sites.

About the Survey

This report is based on survey research done by the Pew Internet Project and the Monitor Institute, with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is based on polls in three communities - Philadelphia (N=503), San Jose (N=504), and Macon (N=503) - that were conducted in November 2010. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and, overal, included 398 interviews conducted on cell phones.The margin of error in each city's sample is =/- 4.8%.

A large spreadsheet of the survey questions and results is available by clicking on "Explore Survey Questions" above.

The regressions upon which some of the analysis are available in Appendix A.

Projects discussed in this publication

Ben Franklin Parkway Development

To accelerate the transformation of the Ben Franklin Parkway into a world-class, pedestrian-oriented cultural campus through coordinated, extensive public space investments

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