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How the Latest Citizen Preference Data Is Shaping Local Government Services

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We unpack citizen preferences for digitally accessing services to guide local government thought leaders in making more informed, data-driven decisions toward citizen engagement.

Powerful communication for local government begins with understanding citizens' communication preferences, which is why Rock Solid set out to find those exact insights in our 2022 comprehensive national survey. Think about the numerous services local governments provide to serve their constituents: 311, utility billing and city/government meetings, just to name a few. Local government thought leaders have many responsibilities on their plate as it is and knowing which services to prioritize can assist with efficiencies, help city staff avoid burnout and improve positive citizen sentiments toward local government.

We also have data from our comprehensive survey in 2020, to compare citizen preferences over the years. One notable finding through our comparative research is that 62.8 percent of people said they were very satisfied or satisfied with local government access, a jump of 7 percent from 2020. The increase is notable at a time when there is a great deal of disillusionment with federal or state government but shows how local government is stepping up to resident expectations.

A recent study by Deloitte only reinforces this notion: Local government had a higher composite trust score in the study, ahead of trust for state government (though still positive), and far beyond the negative levels of trust respondents have toward the federal government. Even with this positive stride in citizen satisfaction for local government, there’s still room for improvement. Over 37 percent of people surveyed still do not express positive feelings about their ability to access services.

Our survey set out to find specificities to help local government thought leaders make more informed, data-driven decisions which is why we began with looking at preferred channels of access.


The preferred channels of engagement for citizens play a critical role in local government thought leaders investing in communication resources, and we asked respondents what they thought. In 2022, the results for citizens' top five preferred points of access were:

  1. In-Person
  2. Phone Call
  3. Smartphone App
  4. Mail
  5. Text Message

Though in-person leads the ranking for preferred channels of access, residents are becoming increasingly more dependent on smartphone app access. This could lend itself to an increased dependence on smartphone apps for other daily tasks (Amazon, Uber, DoorDash). In addition to this ranking, we found that 66 percent of respondents cited smartphone apps among their top four preferred means of engaging with local government. Local governments must be prepared to accommodate changing channel preferences, which may include smartphone apps for accessing local government services. In the full What Citizens Want report we dive deeper into the numerous services that citizens prefer to be digitized, and which ones local governments should give priority.


We have discussed how citizens' preferences in channels of communication have changed over the years, but is there any correlation between preferences and opinions toward accessing local government services and age groups?

In our comprehensive survey in 2020 and 2022, we asked respondents to agree or disagree with the statement “I can communicate with my local government easily.” We then segmented respondents' age groups into Gen Z, millennial, baby boomer, Gen X, and the Silent and Greatest Generation. Our findings showed that younger generations have a less positive insight on whether a citizen can communicate with local government service, and as generations become older, the more they have a positive insight on communicating with local government.

It makes sense that local governments can accommodate generations like baby boomers and older generations because they have had years of experience catering to those citizens' preferences, before the inception of many new tech solutions including smartphone apps.

As younger generations are more digitally savvy and have higher expectations for technological advancement, the channels they use for communicating will look different than the generations ahead of them. This means local governments will need to keep up with current tech trends to serve Gen Z as they transition into adulthood, which may include shifting focus to omnichannel communication.


As aforementioned, American citizens now have more digital devices and channels on hand than ever, and inevitably the list is going to expand over time. Local governments must recognize the need to supply easy access to their services across multiple digital platforms to accommodate multigenerations and plan. Citizens still rely on in-person visits and phone calls as a key means of engagement but have growing expectations for digital and omnichannel accessibility. When thinking about the future and providing your community with the most convenient, digitally accessible, omnichannel resources to services, it is important to consider what services citizens want digitally prioritized.

The full What Citizens Want report takes a deeper dive into the services that citizens want to be digitized and features more context on why some of the data might lend itself to external factors like shifting attitudes toward communicating with local government. Moreover, we highlight key services that local governments should prioritize based on a stack ranking of several survey questions. We surveyed respondents on services like 311, pothole repair and requests, utility billing, public health and 11 other categories to find out which services citizens care about the most and access most frequently.

So, we have covered some base ground with preferred channels of access, and generational trends, but making informed decisions simply starts with the data. The next step for powerful, meaningful engagement comes with understanding citizen-centric responses on a higher level. That is the aim of the 2022 report, and we are excited to share the data with you in an informative and digestible manner. Ready to learn more about the constituents you serve and the services they want digitally prioritized?


Company Bio:

About Rock Solid Technologies 

Founded in 1994, with offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Austin, Texas, Rock Solid is a SaaS provider that helps local governments and their citizens work as one. As a trusted government partner for 25+ years, Rock Solid uses technology to create products that streamline internal local government processes and help municipalities better engage their citizens. From legislative management to public records requests and citizen relationship management, Rock Solid’s OnePlatform helps local governments operate more efficiently and improve civic engagement.