The Challenge: Deciding on whether or not to launch an electric scooter pilot
In spring of 2021, Portland, Texas, was approached by a well-known electric scooter company about bringing e-scooters to the community and running an e-scooter pilot program. Although its more touristy neighbor, the City of Corpus Christi, has seen a large influx of electric scooters – met by significant resident pushback – over the past three years, Portland has remained e-scooter free. Given the regional experience, the City of Portland wanted to gauge citizen interest before it went ahead and signed on to any pilot program or took a stance for or against electric scooters.
The Solution: Running a Zencity-powered CityAsks poll to gauge community interest in an e-Scooter pilot
To understand community sentiment around an electric scooter pilot program, the City distributed a Zencity designed poll via social media and in the City’s printed newsletter with a QR code.
- An e-scooter company is considering launching a pilot program in Portland. To what extent would you support this initiative? (1-5 scale)
- In your opinion, what factors will affect the success or failure of the pilot? (open-ended question)
- What neighborhood do you live in
The response was fantastic. Community members not only filled in the questionnaire, they shared the poll on their own Facebook accounts and within community interest pages and neighborhood groups. More than that, residents engaged both with the City and with one another on the advantages and disadvantages of electric scooters to the community – providing an overwhelming amount of data reflecting resident opinion.
Zencity’s unique AI capabilities and team of expert analysts then transformed all of this engagement into quantitative and insightful information, distilling it down to answer one central question: what did the community ultimately want?The answer was that they did not want electric scooters in their city.
Impact: The City confidently decided not to sign onto the e-scooter pilot program
Zencity’s insight helped Portland understand not only that the majority of respondents preferred that the City did not adopt a pilot, but also what residents’ primary concerns were. Having this data in hand helped the city manager feel confident in his decision to refrain from signing the pilot agreement, validating the office’s preliminary feeling that the program was not a good fit for residents.
As a last step, the City Manager’s Office went ahead and shared the decision and the data to support it with Council in its weekly report, and with its community.
Communicating the final decision – a decision taken with real, proactive community input – showed transparency and accountability, and promoted community relations. Moreover, the City used Zencity’s platform to understand how the decision was received. Following the Facebook post, the City experienced a 400% increase in positive sentiment across official channels! This further validated for the City Manager’s Office that it was on point not signing an agreement.
Sharing the decision outwardly also sent a message to the e-scooter company that it may not have a market in Portland. Ultimately, with or without a signed pilot, the company can still decide to drop its scooters on the streets of Portland. But if this does happen, the City will already be armed with many of its residents’ concerns around the new scooters.