Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: The Medium Is the Message: The Impact of Technological Innovation in Existing Coproduction and Management Systems

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 8:50 AM
Pearson II (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Matthew Young, University of Southern California
This paper analyzes the impact of technology-based innovations in coproduction of municipal services. Prior studies of such systems have examined their role in facilitating coproduction (Thomas 2013), improving resident satisfaction with local government (Clark & Rokakis, forthcoming; Morgeson, VanAmbur, & Mithas 2011), and potential biases in usage (Clark, Brudney, & Jang 2013). Innovative coproduction systems also represent an important ‘bottom-up’ approach to evidence-based policymaking: information provided by citizens through these channels is used by decision-makers to not only allocate resources necessary to correct reported problems in the short term but also as inputs in performance management and strategic planning processes (City of Boston Performance Management System 2013; Office of the Controller/City and County of San Francisco 2013; NYC Mayor’s Office of Operations 2013; City of Chicago 2013).

The paper examines the impact of changes over time to the City of San Francisco’s 311 system that allows residents to notify the city of non-emergency problems that require government intervention (e.g., vandalism of public spaces, or fallen trees obstructing streets/sidewalks, etc.). The 311 system was initially a telephone call center; over time the city has added support for communication via email, web, Twitter, and 3rdparty mobile apps via open source architecture. Specifically, it makes uses geocoded panel data consisting of requests and responses collected through the City of San Francisco’s 311 system over seven years integrated with city demographic and institutional data. Multivariate statistical and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analyses are employed to test hypotheses about the impact of introducing additional reporting channels.

Service requests received through social media and mobile applications are hypothesized to have faster closure times than phone-based requests due to increased levels of public exposure and scrutiny over requests transmitted via telephone. Additionally, requests generated through innovative mediums may be over or under utilized by different strata of residents, exacerbating or potentially mitigating socioeconomic disparities in citizen coproduction with attendant implications for theories of digital/open government (Dunleavy et al 2006; Fishenden & Thompson 2014).

This study contributes to the literature by examining the differences in utilization rates and service response times by technological medium. In so doing, it directly addresses the question of how innovative changes to existing coproduction systems alter system usage behavior for both citizens and government, and how this in turn can impact evidence-based policymaking that relies on these data.

Full Paper: