The internet is famous for its ability to connect us with people all over the world, but a new survey from the Pew Internet and American Life project shows that it’s also important on a local level.
The study, which was conducted in San Jose, Calif., Philadelphia and Macon, Ga. was designed to measure the effectiveness of local, community and civic communications.
The majority of respondents agreed that access to a broadband connection was very important and 34% said that having the internet majorly impacted their ability to participate in the community.
Oddly, the survey found that many people with broadband connections were more critical of their local government which could be based on the fact that they have more access to information. If you don’t see all the people complaining about the road construction, you may think the city is handling the issue just fine.
Social media is a growing trend when it comes to local information. 32% of the internet users surveyed use a social networking site to stay in touch with their community, 19% use local blogs, 19% are on an email list and only 7% turn to Twitter for local news.
In order to test the accessibility of local information, participants were asked to find a variety of information such as school budgets and details on community services. Google was a popular choice for the search, and in each town, one local news website rose to the top of the list. Rarely did the searchers access the actual community websites and even when they did find the information only 37% said it was clear and understandable.
What is clear is that communities could be doing a better job disseminating information. Informed people are happy people (except for some broadband users as noted above) and happy people are more likely to get involved in their community and that’s good news for everyone.
Your mission is to take a moment to think about what you can do to help your community. It doesn’t matter if you sell products internationally, as a business you should support the town where you live, shop and play.
Have any great ideas for how a local business can get more involved with the community? Let us know in the comments below.