Measuring needs and preferences

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Finding out how many citizens have which needs, and what their preferences are between alternative options (e.g. through surveys, opinion polls, preferenda).

  • Some consultations set out to find what particular groups of people need.
  • Others try to find out what preferences people have between different options.
  • In either case, apart from discussion systems, we often use surveys and votes to quantify the needs or preferences.
  • Computers can help send out surveys, collect the results, and analyse them. They can also be used to run a quick vote in a meeting, or by subtle analysis of preferences, find underlying consensus between oponents.


Here we are not talking about voting for representatives, but choosing options on issues.

  • voting software can help analyse votes
  • voting hardware can collect votes from dozens or thousands of people at once
    • wireless voting systems: Xtol, vPad
    • text message (SMS) voting

Online surveys

Online survey cycle

An online survey is designed to replace traditional paper questionnaires.


  1. mobile phone Internet service
  2. various types of survey question

On-line Survey Cycle:

  1. Design the survey, edit the questions.
  2. Respondents fill in the survey in their web browsers.
  3. Send reminders and invitations by e-mail.
  4. Get statistics of results.

Online survey tools:

  • Survey sites, such as Survey Monkey
  • Free and Open Source Software, such as PHP Surveyor, which we have used
  • Commercial software. Look for software written by people who understand web programming, not just crude attempts to replicate paper survey design on-line.
  • Commercial services, provided by market research companies like Milward Brown.