The Forum

The Forum – April, 28 2000

Lauderhill meters public opinion with machine
By Corey Siggins

Lauderhill officials, working in conjunction with Florida Atlantic University, are currently utilizing a special machine in order to determine how residents feel about certain departments and the way they are run within the city.

The machine, called an “Opinionmeter”, has been in use by Lauderhill for the past month. Its purpose is to poll local residents about a particular department or special event that it may be located in at that moment; the responses are evaluated and then factored into any improvements or modifications done afterwards.

“This is something that is very positive to have in the community. The machine will help our city preserve the commitment to providing quality service to the people who live here.”, Special Events Coordinator, Leslie Tropepe, said. The Opinionmeter works by asking a series of questions to an individual about the department or special even that the freestanding machine has been customized to be in.

The machine can be programmed to ask any multiple-choice questions you desire. Since the machine is a mobile piece of equipment, many departments or programs can be scrutinized over a certain period of time. Through an infrared device, the information obtained from the polling can be downloaded and brought back to be analyzed. The data can eventually be transformed into a set of graphs and percentages showing how many people were satisfied or dissatisfied with a department or event.

Judging on how the machine has been used so far, it seems as if residents have been giving straightforward answers. “People tend to be more honest and upfront if they respond anonymously”, Tropepe said. Lauderhill can examine the results of the questioning and, if they wish, modify any area in accordance to how the public feels.

The Florida Institute supplied the Opinionmeter to Lauderhill for Career and Employment Training, a speical division of FAU that specializes in evaluating companies on how they perform. The group had acquired the machine about a year ago from a California-based company called Opinionmeter, Inc. The machine was normally used by the division to query employees on the efficiency of the various businesses and companies for which they worked. Lauderhill is the first city in which the Opinionmeter has been placed.

According to Tropepe, response to the Opinionmeter has been positive. For instance, the machine was recently seen at the city’s annual “Spring Fling” celebration last weekend, which polled residents on how they felt about Lauderhill’s special events. “Because of the response conveyed towards the use of the Opinionmeter in Lauderhill, we are now in talks to use the machines in other cities in the future,” George Gadson said. “In fact, five more Opinionmeters are in the process of being purchased right now.”

To Tropepe, the Opinionmeter represents an invaluable tool that helps in insuring that Lauderhill’s departments and events are simply the best that they can be. “This is such an incredible device at our disposal. I believe it’s something that improves the quality of life immensely here in Lauderhill and helps us in communicating on a better basis with residents,” she said.

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