Outlier wants our reporting to fill information and accountability gaps that keep Detroiters from meeting their challenges and achieving their goals.
To find these information gaps we analyze data ranging from 911 calls to property tax data, which helps us understand what Detroiters may be struggling with and how responsive officials are to these needs. We also ask Detroiters directly about their challenges and what kind of information they need, using a short, text-message-based survey. We send people who take the survey a $10 gift card to thank them for their help. We do these surveys at least once a year.
After we analyze this data and the survey results, we know what issues we need to cover and what kind of information should go in our SMS information service. We do these info needs assessments at least once a year. Our first three years we covered housing and utilities. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we added information about COVID testing and vaccines, unemployment and where to find food to our service. Last year’s assessment told us Detroiters were struggling more than in past years with transportation, so we have incorporated that beat into our coverage.
We will be collecting info needs surveys until April 22. If you’ve used Outlier’s SMS service and get a survey from us, we hope you take it. You can also text “INFONEED” to 67485 to take the survey now. If you would rather take the survey online you can do that here. It takes just a few minutes and will help us get you and other Detroiters information and reporting you need.