We know it’s our civic duty to advise the government how many people live in their quarters, share their ethnicity and the number of slaves we own. Scratch the last one. The fact is, despite this multimillion-dollar ad blitz the government did to try to encourage people to count themselves in the 2010 Census, response rates are low.
I saw a lot of media buys, a lot of billboards and quite a bit of news coverage about the census. I even heard the radio ads put out by the government assuring people their answers are private. This costs money and its ROI could be questionable at best.
I have an idea for how to improve response rates for the Census. It’s actually quite simple.
Considering the fact the Census Bureau will be spending big bucks on the ads anyway, they should reward the top five (lets make that the top 50) cities with the highest response rate with a massive bout of federal funds. Better yet, have a pool of bucks that the top 50 cities compete for in their response rates.
I know we could probably edge the Phoenix-area cities to up their Census response rate if we had Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert and Phoenix all competing for $2 million. (From there, city legislators can appropriate the funds in a way that pleases the people.)
Right now, there’s no visibly tangible reason why anyone would fill out the Census except for “being counted” but if they knew it would put their city on the map and possibly receive these “booster funds” for their few minutes – who would say no?
The media coverage would be constant (and free), almost like a presidential race as the Census processes their capture rates from people. The financial implications would be useful because paying $2 million bribe to a city for the highest response rate (ever) is a lot cheaper than $10 million to hire temporary workers to knock on doors.
Besides, how cool would it be for people to proclaim they participated in the Census akin to how they participate in presidential elections. And better yet, everyone’s a winner here. The ideas for personal recognition can take off if they are given an individualized “I got counted” image they can share on Twitter, their blogs, Facebook and what have you.
Personally, I don’t know why the feds need to know race or ethnicity. Well, actually I do, but I don’t understand it. Perhaps a little more transparency into what the data offers will entice people to truthfully and diligently fill out their Census. The idea behind asking race and ethnicity is to determine if there is housing discrimination taking place in various areas. Like I said, I’m a little unclear, but this reasoning makes sense as it helps the people.
At least they aren’t asking how many slaves you own, right?
This idea could work and could prove relevant for the next Census in 2020. Social media isn’t always about Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and hilarious YouTube videos. It’s about enabling people to interact.