Americans use a range of approaches to keep informed about what is happening in their communities and online activities have been added to the mix. Face-to-face encounters and phone calls remain the most frequent methods of interaction with neighbors. At the same time, internet tools are gaining ground in community-oriented communications.
In a poll conducted at the end of last year, we asked about online connections to communities and neighbors and found that in the twelve months preceding our survey:
- 22% of all adults (representing 28% of internet users) signed up to receive alerts about local issues (such as traffic, school events, weather warnings or crime alerts) via email or text messaging.
- 20% of all adults (27% of internet users) used digital tools to talk to their neighbors and keep informed about community issues.
Overall, physical personal encounters remain the primary way people stay informed about community issues. In the twelve months preceding our survey:
- 46% of Americans talked face-to-face with neighbors about community issues
- 21% discussed community issues over the telephone
- 11% read a blog dealing with community issues
- 9% exchanged emails with neighbors about community issues and 5% say they belong to a community email listserv
- 4% communicated with neighbors by text messaging on cell phones
- 4% joined a social network site group connected to community issues
- 2% followed neighbors using Twitter
Additionally, 22% of adult Americans have signed up to receive alerts about community issues via text or email. This includes anyone who has signed up for alerts about one or more of the following issues:
- School events, such as school closings (13% of all adults have signed up for such alerts)
- Warnings about bad weather (11%)
- Crime in one’s neighborhood (5%)
- Traffic congestion or road closings (4%)
About the Survey
This report is based on the findings of a telephone survey conducted between November 30 and December 27, 2009, among a sample of 2,258 adults, age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in both English (n=2,197) and Spanish (n=61) and a total of 565 interviews were conducted using the respondent’s cell phone. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. For results based Internet users (n=1,676), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.