Information Exchange: Events

Focus Groups on Performance Measurement, Boston, MA

Boston and Brockton, MA - Boston, MA, USA
Nov 30, 1999—Dec 1, 1999

From the Focus Group Reports

"This report summarizes two focus groups sponsored by the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS) to seek feedback from users on how they measure the performance of four systems: transportation (highway and transit), water supply, waste water, and power supply. The research team hoped that participants would provide insight on their priorities and concerns regarding important aspects of these infrastructure systems and on the types of information they need and want in order to assess performance and quality.


In addition to providing useful input to the research effort, these focus groups also served as a pretest of the focus group topics and areas of emphasis, in order to identify potential changes before the next stage of research. The findings will be used to identify and develop measures of infrastructure performance and quality that are particularly meaningful to customers. In turn, these insights may be particularly helpful to owners and operators in improving service to better meet customer needs and in providing information to customers about services and performance that is targeted to what they want and need.

It should be noted that the focus groups were not intended to provide statistically significant information. They provide qualitative insights into what some current users see as important attributes of and information about these types of infrastructure. The results are not meant to represent any particular subset of users (such as transit riders) or of all users. The results reported below show a range of reactions to questions posed as part of a multi-party dialogue in the focus groups. Throughout the report, terms like “most,” “some,” or “many” are used to indicate the general sense of what participants expressed. Quantifying the actual numbers of respondents (such as “6 out of 11 focus group participants felt that….”) would suggest a level of confidence in how well participants represent all users that would not be accurate.

Two focus groups were conducted: the first on Tuesday, November 30, 1999, in Boston, Massachusetts, and the second on Wednesday, December 1, 1999, in Brockton, Massachusetts. Participants in the Boston focus group live and work near the city and other nearby suburbs. Participants in the Brockton focus group live and work in the Brockton area. The Boston focus group had fourteen participants, while the Brockton group had thirteen. In addition to their places of residence, participants were chosen according to a range of household income levels and demographics.

The following section summarizes each major part of the focus group discussions and covers both focus groups. Unless otherwise noted, the summary is reflective of the discussion across both groups. Any significant deviation in one group is noted."





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