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I was recently involved with the Official Community Plan (OCP) survey for Area H (rural Princeton, Tulameen, Eastgate, Allison Lake, and so on—a massive physical area with relatively few people). Our approach was much like what is being proposed here: paper surveys were mailed out to everyone but residents were given the opportunity to submit online if they so desired.  Two other wrinkles in Area H are (a) spotty Internet service in outlying areas, which favors paper-based participation and (b) a large proportion of part-time/seasonal residents, which your might think favors online participation.

I have summarized the results below according to part-time/full-time status ("N" refers to the number of residents; "RowPctN" is the percent of participants in that age group that chose the online/paper-based option).

Predictably, the very young (few in this sample) opted for online participation whereas no one in the 75+ group completed the survey online.  However, age generally is a poor predictor of whether residents chose online or paper-based participation. Based on this, I conclude that the oft-voiced concern that "seniors do not use the Internet" is a myth.  Senior seem to be willing to participate online about as much people in other age groups—about 30% based on our Area H experience.


Status Part-time / seasonal resident
  Opted for survey online
No Yes
N RowPctN N RowPctN
Age 1 33.33 2 66.67
25-34 years
35-49 years 40 72.73 15 27.27
50-64 years 84 71.79 33 28.21
65-74 years 33 89.19 4 10.81
over 75 19 100.00 . .


Status Permanent resident
  Opted for survey online
No Yes
N RowPctN N RowPctN
Age . . 2 100.00
25-34 years
35-49 years 9 60.00 6 40.00
50-64 years 50 81.97 11 18.03
65-74 years 27 65.85 14 34.15
over 75 8 100.00 . .

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