Coproduction of Government Services and the New Information Technology: Investigating the Distributional Biases



This article investigates how communications advances affect citizens’ ability to participate in coproduction of government services. The authors analyze service requests made to the City of Boston during a one-year period from 2010 to 2011 and, using geospatial analysis and negative binomial regression, investigate possible disparities by race, education, and income in making service requests. The findings reveal little concern that 311 systems (nonemergency call centers) may benefit one racial group over another; however, there is some indication that Hispanics may use these systems less as requests move from call centers to the Internet and smartphones. Consistent with prior research, the findings show that poorer neighborhoods are less likely to take advantage of 311 service, with the notable exception of smartphone utilization. The implications for citizen participation in coproduction and bridging the digital divide are discussed.