West Bench, Faulder, Okanagan Lake West
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.
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