Do Advanced Information Technologies Produce Equitable Government Responses in Coproduction: An Examination of 311 Systems in 15 US Cities
37 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 22, 2019
The primary research question we seek to answer in this article is: Do governments respond differently to citizen service requests depending on where those requests originate in the city? This study is particularly salient in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in response to police violence or the gross neglect of infrastructure in Flint, MI. While numerous studies have been able to demonstrate bias in policing, few (if any) have looked at biases that may be present in other types of general government services. Anecdotal (Davis, 2013; Meyer, 2013) and empirical (Jones, Greenberg, Kaufman, & Drew, 1977; Thomas, 1982; Thomas & Streib, 2003; Vedlitz, Dyer, & Durand, 1980) evidence has supported the claims by some that some cities were responding slower to service requests made in poor and minority neighborhoods than they were in the richer, whiter neighborhoods. We sought, in this article, to examine if there was empirical evidence to support these claims.
The results of our 15-city study of 311 systems (non-emergency service requests made by city residents) demonstrate no systematic differences in how the cities respond that would indicate a bias against minorities and poorer residents. Unsurprisingly, the effects are not consistent across all of our sample cities. While some cities have statistically significant differences showing slower responses for these neighborhoods and others show quicker, the practical differences are so small as to be of little concern during our study period (2007 – 2016).
Keywords: coproduction, 311, citizen contacts, coassessment
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