How to Measure Community Engagement with Automated Technology

Learn practical ways to measure the effectiveness of your public safety agency’s community engagement program with automated community engagement software.

April 24, 2023

Article highlights: 

Nearly every law enforcement agency nationwide has an element of community engagement built into their strategic plan and organizational structure. Whether you have a specialized unit or build it into your agency culture, you know community engagement is essential to public safety today. 

But how are you measuring your community engagement efforts? Do you have tools to track your programs and initiatives? Do you have a system in place to automatically collect and measure satisfaction scores? How do you know if what you’re doing is actually working? 

In this article, we’re going to address these questions and give you insight into how to measure community engagement with automated technology. We’ll highlight some of the best ways to collect and analyze real data – and then show you how PowerDMS’s community engagement software, PowerEngage, can help you accomplish these goals.

Why is it important to measure community engagement? 

You might be asking yourself why it’s important to measure your community engagement efforts. Isn’t it enough that you have a program in place? Indeed, having a community engagement program is better than having nothing. 

But if you don’t have a way to measure the effectiveness of your program, is it really accomplishing its goals? 

The short answer is, probably not. The main goals of community engagement are to build public trust, improve police-community relationships, and enhance your department’s ability to serve citizens with excellence. And if you can’t measure how your citizens feel about the level of service and engagement you provide, there’s no way to know for certain that your community engagement initiatives are effective.

How to measure community engagement using technology

The digital landscape has changed drastically in the past decade. Even in the last few years, technology advancements have shifted the way people interact with each other, businesses, and even law enforcement. 

It’s important for the technology you choose to reduce your workload rather than add to it.

Instead of just adding one more piece of technology to manage, what if your agency could implement software that actually saves you time and manages tasks for you?

Leveraging automated digital solutions is one of the best ways for law enforcement to proactively engage with citizens, streamline operations, and promote agency excellence in today’s world. With so many technological advancements available to us, it’s important for the technology you choose to reduce your workload rather than add to it. 

This is one of the amazing benefits of automated community engagement software – it gives your agency a practical way to measure the effectiveness of your community engagement programs without requiring any additional time, staff, or resources. 

The practical steps below give you an outline of how to start leveraging technology to measure the effectiveness of your community engagement efforts. And if your existing software can’t support these functions, take a look at the end of the article to learn more about PowerDMS’s community engagement software – PowerEngage.

Community satisfaction surveys

When you want to know how effective your community engagement efforts have been, you need to measure community satisfaction. But you won’t get the data you need if you post a group of survey questions online and hope for the best. It is absolutely critical that you ask the right people the right questions at the right time. 

  • The right people: Online surveys aren’t guaranteed to reach the people you actually want to hear from. Anyone from anywhere can access an online survey, whether they actually interacted with your department or not. Additionally, you wouldn’t want to send a survey to someone you just arrested asking how satisfied they were with their DUI. 
  • The right questions: It’s important to ask a range of questions in your community satisfaction surveys so you get meaningful answers. It’s best to have several questions that can be answered on a scale so you can track hard data over time. But don’t forget to ask for feedback in at least one open-ended question – this gives citizens a chance to express how they felt about a recent interaction. (Need help coming up with great questions? Check out this article to get started: Top Questions to Include in Your Community Satisfaction Surveys.)
  • The right time: No one wants to get a survey right after they’ve experienced a burglary. In the heat of the moment, they’re under incredible stress and might be too emotional to respond. The best approach is to wait a few days before sending them a survey – giving them time to process the event without waiting too long so the details are still easy to remember.  

Community feedback surveys at events

When your agency hosts or participates in events throughout your community, don’t miss that opportunity to collect feedback from the citizens in attendance. Your community appreciates when you take the time to engage with them on a personal level – interacting with them outside of the context of an incident. 

Connecting on a human level at these events is so valuable, and capturing how they feel about your agency’s service in that moment can be powerful. Not only can you use positive feedback to boost officer morale in your department, but you may get excellent ideas and insights for your next event or initiative if you ask the right questions. 

To accomplish this, simply use your community engagement software to create an event-specific QR code, which you can add to event posters and flyers or hand out on cards at the event. This allows you to ask event-specific questions and easily collect citizen feedback for new ideas from attendees. If it’s an annual event, you can even track how your community’s responses evolve year over year. 

Police-community interaction surveys

Your officers are your ambassadors – representing your agency to the community with every interaction.

Another great way to measure your community engagement is to identify how well your officers are promoting your agency’s culture of community engagement in their daily interactions with citizens outside of traffic stops and other calls for service. Your officers are your ambassadors – representing your agency to the community with every interaction. So how do you currently measure what your officers do to make a positive impact when a call for service isn’t created? 

Most software offers ways to send automated surveys to citizens from CAD and RMS triggers, but the best solutions also allow you to measure the positive impact your officers are making every day. When they stop on the side of the road to help someone change a tire, when they spend time assisting a victim at a scene they weren’t assigned to, when they check in at a local business to see how things are going … All of these interactions could get lost and remain anonymous if you don’t have a way to capture them. 

Technology can help with police-community interaction surveys. Simply create a QR code for each officer in your department using your community engagement software and print it on their business card. Then every time they connect with citizens, they can offer their card to build a positive relationship and provide an opportunity to share feedback.  

How PowerEngage measures community engagement

PowerEngage is PowerDMS’s complete community engagement software and feedback solution designed specifically for public safety agencies like yours. 

The software creates a CJIS-compliant connection to your CAD and RMS system and automatically sends community satisfaction surveys based on your pre-selected triggers. That way, you’re always surveying the right people at the right time with the customized questions of your choosing.  

PowerEngage also allows you to create multiple QR codes for events, officer business cards, and more – empowering you to collect data, measure satisfaction, and track the effectiveness of your community engagement efforts in one place. 

The admin dashboard in PowerEngage automatically calculates a Citizen Positive Satisfaction Score (CPSS) for your agency and for individual officers that you can track over time. Qualitative feedback is also auto-sorted in the system, creating follow-up tasks for negative feedback and automatically sending positive feedback to officers in weekly emails to boost morale. 

Ready to learn more about how PowerEngage can help you measure the effectiveness of your community engagement program and boost officer morale? Our team would love to answer your questions and see if PowerEngage is the right fit for you, so schedule a free consultation today.

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