Citizen Representation in City Government-Driven Crowdsourcing
This article examines the citizen representativeness of crowdsourcing achieved through 311 systems—the non-emergency and quality of life service request reporting systems used by local governments. Based on surveys of San Francisco residents conducted in 2011, 2013, and 2015, our findings suggest that no systematic biases exist in participation rates across a range of socio-economic indicators. In addition, the findings provide evidence that participation may be responding positively to the city’s responsiveness, thus creating a self-reinforcing process that benefits an increasingly diverse and representative body of users. This inquiry builds on earlier studies of Boston and San Francisco that show that 311 systems did not bias response to traditionally disadvantaged groups (lower socioeconomic status or racial/ethnic minorities) at the demand level nor from high-volume users.