Upending historically low census response during the Pandemic

October 9, 2020, Washington DC – The City of San Jose, CA was facing a conundrum when it came to implementing the Census count.  The Census, which is completed every 10 years, is how the federal government allocates funding and house representatives, so it is critically important that the count is accurate.  Historically, turnout is low in low-income and minority areas due to language barriers, lack of internet access, and other factors that lead these already disadvantaged groups being even further underrepresented and underfunded.  In 2020 the Census faces the unprecedented problem of the pandemic that curtained traditional methods for accounting for these groups.

The Census team in San Jose California identified a key challenge in their city.  A group of gated apartment complexes had historically low response rates.  Given the Pandemic, traditional canvassing would be tricky and represented a significant use of resources. Traditional canvassing methods can only manage 10-13 addresses per man-hour, and may require multiple – visits per response. The San Jose Census team reached out to iConstituent and explained their challenges.  In response, IConstituent deployed GovText to help.  Using the iConstituent database, San Jose was able to target the households in question.  Texting allowed the Census team to provide bilingual messaging (English and Spanish) with responses to track if the census had been completed or if the family needed additional help.  With a 93% delivery rate to targeted households, 11% responded.  Of those that responded 68% stated that they completed the census or committed to do so.  Those 500+ individual responses represented   an effort that would have taken canvasser weeks to complete, yet only took only seconds to initiate via text.  

iConstituent’s GovText allowed the City of San Jose to connect with households that were otherwise inaccessible in a cost-efficient and effective text communication, increasing the accuracy of the census in one-on-one engagement with households.  Government officials can use this same tool to connect with their constituents, increasing the audience reach while maintaining one-on-one communication.  Studies show that increasing constituent engagement improves an official’s standing with the community. 

If you want to learn more about how Govtext has been used by government offices during the Pandemic click here!

Maria Ochoa, Investor Relations


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