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June 13, 2016

Philly-based research group working to give all residents chance to be heard

Philadelphia residents can take part of an innovative effort by Temple University’s Institute for Survey Research aimed to give participants an equal voice.

BeHeardPhilly, which was launched last year, is designed to represent the diverse demographics of Philadelphians.

The project attempts to better connect local organizations trying to make improvements in the city with the people who will be affected by the changes.

Nina Hoe, a study director at the school, talked about the effort on FiveThirtyEight's podcast "What's The Point" that was published Friday.

"We’re [trying to] help figure this out and be part of the research and the solution to figuring out a better way to take the pulse of our municipality or whatever the citizenry of interest is," Hoe said on the podcast. "We are in a very experimental phase and trying to do everything we can to try and test ourselves and our panel members."

BeHeardPhilly allows volunteers to sign up via its website or phone and choose how often they are contacted.

That is important because it gives the "respondent more control over how they are being contacted and how often they are being contacted," according to Hoe.

Only city residents who are 18 years of age or older willing to disclose their age, race and highest level of education are eligible.

BeHeardPhilly ensures that all participants’ will remain anonymous when responding to topics, which include education, crime and violence, transportation, public health and more.

The project also offers incentives that include gift cards, cash and iPads to respondents.

However, the most important incentive the project offers is the chance to be heard.