Surveys are a useful way of finding out more about the wants, needs and preferences of citizens. They can supply a genuine insight into what people actually think and offer a degree of objective evidence in place of guess work and supposition.

Market, social and opinion research is a professional discipline. Getting surveys to give a clear and accurate picture is not always simple, and building really detailed understanding of what people are saying requires careful design and implementation.

Surveys need to be treated with caution. The right questions need to be asked of the right people and in the right way in order to deliver real insight  otherwise they can be misleading. Properly planned and conducted, surveys can be an immensely effective tool: poor quality surveys may give you little or no genuine evidence and in the worst cases confuse or misdirect.