Category: Government

What seniors want from open space

Corona Insights recently helped sponsor the Colorado Open Space Alliance: 2013 Conference in the beautiful hamlet of Crested Butte, Colorado.  More land managers and natural resource professionals attended this year’s conference than any year prior, demonstrating both the success of the conference organizers and the growing field of open space, natural areas, and landscape conservation in Colorado.  This year’s conference was energetic, inspiring, and full of camaraderie, and Corona Insights was proud to help sponsor such an event.

We were also happy to share some insights and implications we uncovered while conducting research for a Front Range open space agency this summer.  We surveyed county senior citizens to understand their desire to recreate on open space, satisfaction of their recent visits, preferences for amenities and trail management, and what makes it difficult to access open space.  Understanding what this segment of the population thinks is important because the proportion of Coloradoans older than 64 is projected to increase by 7.8 percent over the next 15 years.

Some of our findings were expected (e.g., most seniors go hiking or walking when visiting open space) but other results were surprising.  For example, most seniors prefer hiking on trails made of dirt and rock, rather than gravel trails or paved trails.  Seniors are also most likely to prefer trails that are wide enough for two people to walk side-by-side and least likely to prefer trails that are wide enough for only one person at a time.  These results will inform resource and recreation planners, landscape architects, and other staff about what trail policies and amenities seniors prefer.

If your agency or department needs to know what your constituents prefer, need, want, or do, give us a call and see what Corona Insights can uncover for you.

Making the Most of Our Money

Scientists and researchers like to think that if our leaders would only stick to the facts, the data would make many of our hard decisions for us.  Unfortunately, some of the most contentious debates don’t hinge solely on facts – sometimes because of insufficient data, sometimes because values are at play.  However, data has a solid role to play in narrowing down the available options in our decision sets.

For many problems that we want to solve (e.g., homelessness, addiction, threats of hurricane damage, disease, you name it) a variety of organizations have developed potential solutions that attack each problem from different angles.  Determining which of the solutions to each problem are effective requires evaluation.  When there is a limited amount of funding to go around evaluation is particularly important and helps organizations compete for funding.

A recent article in The Atlantic encourages more use of evaluation in government decision making.  In particular, the authors advocate evaluating our program and policy efforts to see whether they are achieving the desired outcomes. Their advice is to start with “collecting more information on what works and what doesn’t”, make sure results are communicated systematically to lawmakers, and then hold lawmakers accountable for achieving a results-driven government.

We regularly help our clients to evaluate their efforts.  We help them to determine what’s working and what isn’t, and measure their impacts in the community.  This information is useful for all funders, not just the government.  And it’s also worth noting that the government funds a great deal of activities beyond social programs (in fact, social programs make up only a tiny sliver of the small piece of pie allotted to discretionary spending), but evaluation and other research methods can be applied to make the most of those other dollars too, as the Atlantic article also notes.

The great Peruvian Census of 2007

As a recent traveler to Peru, I got the following message today from the U.S. State Department about the Peru National census recently, which shows four things:

1. Peru takes their census very seriously.
2. As a good rule of thumb, you want to be sober when you fill out any census form.
3. If the Peruvian population must stay in their homes, who’s driving those trains and shuttle buses?
4. Timely notices are valuable. This one is not timely.

It would be kind of fun to be there on census day just to see how quiet the country would be.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 is National Census Day in Peru. Peru’s National Statistics Institute (INEI) will conduct a nationwide census on Sunday, October 21 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Embassy has been informed that all public establishments (markets, supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, gas stations, and all commercial establishments) will be closed during census hours. All cultural activities, sporting events, church services, and access to museums and archeological parks will be suspended during census hours. In addition, the sale and/or excessive consumption of alcohol is prohibited during the census hours. The government of Peru has directed that the population of Peru remain in their homes during census hours. U.S. citizens in Peru are subject to Peruvian law and must comply with any legal restrictions imposed by the government.

Foreign tourists may travel freely throughout the country, but may be required to present passports and proof of census participation upon request. Tourists may be asked by hotel staff serving as census volunteers to gather information similar to that gathered in the United States (age, place of birth, occupation, etc. of household members). We have been assured that there are special provisions in place for tourists and those in transit through Peru to provide shorter answers. All official INEI volunteer census takers should have identifying badges and credentials. Tourists should receive a sticker and/or “Cédula” directly from either from census workers after they have been counted or from their hotel reception desks before venturing outside from hotels and residences.

International and domestic flights are expected to maintain normal schedules, but ground transportation and water transportation may be severely restricted during census hours. Intercity buses and taxis will not be in operation, however taxis to and from the airport in Lima to hotels are expected to be in operation for tourists with passports and airplane tickets and/or boarding passes. Those who travel by personal vehicle during census hours may be stopped and asked to return to their residences and/or hotels by local officials. We are advised that the tourist trains and shuttle buses to Machu Picchu and the World Heritage Site itself will most likely be accessible and open for foreign tourists with valid passports and tourist visas.

Excited about Denver’s art

Denver Arts and VenuesEarlier this week Corona Insights attended the CBCA’s 26th annual Business for the Arts Awards Luncheon. The event was filled with beautiful performances, great food, and incredible examples of work being done in Denver at the intersection of business and arts. Corona Insights would like to congratulate and commend all of the nominees and winners on their inspiring endeavors.

Amidst the luncheon, Mayor Michael Hancock noted that the process is underway to create a cultural plan for Denver. Corona Insights is thrilled to be working with Denver Arts and Venues on the development of this cultural plan, called Imagine 2020: Creating a Future for Denver’s Culture, to help guide Denver through the next seven years and beyond. As the Mayor noted, Denver is already teeming with arts, culture, and creativity. Corona’s role is to facilitate the planning process and help take Denver to the next level.

Denver Arts and Venues and Corona are preparing for a convening to learn about key stakeholders’ vision for Denver’s future. In the coming weeks, we will be working to engage the public in the planning process as well as the greater creative community to learn what the City envisions, and Corona will be working with Denver Arts and Venues to craft the cultural plan. Be on the lookout for Imagine 2020!

Demographics and Political Representation

Per longstanding tradition, we had a presidential election in 2004, and per longstanding tradition, there was debate about whether the Electoral College was a fair way to elect a president.  Now, I’m not a political junkie so I make no claims of expertise in that area, however my intrigue with data and demographics hooked me into the debate. I have always been intrigued by the fact that residents in smaller states have a larger formal voting power in both the Electoral College and in the U.S. Senate.  For example, each Senator in California represents roughly 18 million people, while each Senator in Alaska represents about 230,000 people.  In an increasingly federalist nation, it sometimes furrows my brow.

At the time, I was doing a lot of traveling for clients, so I had lots of down time on planes.  Like any normal demographer, my mind wandered to that subject, and I had a whimsical thought.  What if state boundaries changed after every census so that each state had the same population?  That would make everyone’s representation equal in the Senate and in the Electoral College.  Cool, eh?

Now, I know that this would never happen.  The social impact of redrawing borders would wreak havoc on many elements of our everyday lives.  But it’s a fun thought so I decided to do some research.  Instead of reading the in-flight magazine on my flights, I dug up data on a county level map and started redrawing state boundaries using the 2000 Census data.  My strategy was that I would maintain current state boundaries where possible, that I would maintain cultural identities where possible, and that I would keep all new states’ populations within a range of roughly three percent of each other.

The research was harder than it sounded, and it kept me busy on numerous flights to the east coast and back.  But eventually I did it, and produced the map below.

Demographic Research Data
So what do you think? Would you enjoy living in your new state in this system?

The results are fun to look at.  First, you’ll see (or not see) that five states would be very small in size.  New York City and Long Island would combine to form two states, and we would have two states in Orange County and south LA County.  Part of the Chicago Metro Area would be a state too, so the three big metropolises would be 5 of our 50 states.

Elsewhere, we would see Florida comprising most of three states and Texas splitting into five, while California as a whole would contain all or part of seven new states.  Missouri would survive nearly unchanged, adopting a few counties in rural Arkansas to comb down that bootheel cowlick in its southeast corner, and Kansas and Nebraska would neatly combine into one state with a little imperialism to the south.

One of my hardest parts of the evaluation was figuring out what to do with the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.  Its population didn’t seem to work well in any configuration, and I eventually resignedly split them, brother against brother.  The central cities and northern suburbs joined the large northern state of North WyMonAlaskakota, and the rest of the suburbs formed the northern border of Iowasota.  Hopefully that won’t cause civil strife.

There are a few other minor hitches, but nothing insurmountable.  Dallas residents might initially resist living in Oklahoma and becoming Sooners fans, but they’ll adjust.  Salt Lake City and Las Vegas might see some minor social and cultural clashes, but that’ll just make the governor’s election more interesting.  And Hawaii residents may not enjoy flying to San Diego to pay their speeding tickets, but hey, that’s a small price to pay for living in Hawaii, am I right?

On the other hand, it worked out so well for Wisconsin to absorb the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that it almost seemed like destiny.  And who in Arkansas would argue against having a coastline?  Some things are just meant to be.

All it takes is an occasional change of in-state tuition for college students and some havoc with the post office, and your reward is an attractive and ever-changing map, and a guarantee of equal representation in this great nation of ours.


State of Our Cities and Towns 2013

Every day, we utilize crucial services from our local government.  Towns and city’s provide clean water, build and maintain our sidewalks, and spearhead economic development in our communities. We were honored to work with the Colorado Municipal League’s (CML) for the fourth year on their annual report (pdf)State of Our Cities and Towns for Colorado.

Not everyone absorbs information by reading graphs and tables or even text in a report. To complement the report, CML also produced an easy to digest video highlighting the key themes from this year’s survey findings. The short video is a great way to communicate the important information to a statewide audience.

CML also created a brochure (pdf) to help maximize distribution.

To learn more about the Colorado Municipal League, visit their website.

Interested in reading last year’s report? See the blog post we wrote to highlight CML’s 2012 annual report. 


Unusual Questions Asked in the U.S. Census

Kevin recently taught a class on how to use U.S. Census data, and did a little historical research on census questions. He discovered a few questions asked in the past that may seem a little odd today, though they likely were quite relevant during their particular time period. They’re paraphrased below.

1. 1850 Census – How many slaves escaped from you in the last year that you did not recapture? And how many slaves did you free?
2. 1860 Census – What’s your net worth? (Asked separately for real estate and for other possessions)
3. 1870 Census – Are you not allowed to vote for some reason other than “rebellion or other crime”? (Asked only of men.)
4. 1880 Census – Were you sick enough today that you couldn’t attend to your ordinary duties? And if so, what was your sickness?
5. 1910 Census – If you are a polygamist, are your wives sisters? (Asked only of Native Americans.)
6. 1940 Census – If your home doesn’t have running water, is there a source of water within 50 feet of your home?
7. 1960 Census – Does your home have a basement? And how many television sets do you own?
8. 1970 Census – Do you enter your home through a front door, or do you enter your home through someone else’s living quarters? And do you have a battery-operated radio?

There were likely very good reasons to ask questions like these in the past, even if they may not resonate today. It makes us wonder what questions we’re being asked in the current American Community Surveys that will seem antiquated or odd 50 years from now.

Image by Norman Rockwell.

State of Our Cities and Towns

We always like to see our research in action. We especially liked the Colorado Municipal League’s (CML) recent videos highlighting the findings (pdf) from the most recent edition of the State of Our Cities and Towns for Colorado. Not everyone absorbs information by reading graphs and tables or even text in a report. Producing an easy to digest video highlighting the key themes from this year’s survey findings was a great way to ensure the information is clearly communicated. (CML also created a brochure (pdf) to help maximize distribution.)

Corona has worked with CML for several years and this is the third year in which Corona has conducted the research to inform the State of Our Cities and Towns annual report.

Visit the Denver Post to see a recent article by CML referencing the State of Our Cities and Towns report.  To learn more about the Colorado Municipal League, visit their website.

Corona in action

What better way to learn about the quality work Corona does than through the experiences of our various customers? Check out our updated Case Studies to see Corona in action. Over the years, Corona has helped a wide array of customers through market research and strategic consulting answer the questions most important to them, and then guide them from insights to successful outcomes.

You may have noticed some other recent changes to Corona’s website. We apply proven research methods and strategic insights to all of our customers, across sectors and industries. Keep checking back to find out how we can help your nonprofit, business, government agency or higher education institution.