Dog fouling and potholes: understanding the role of coproducing ‘citizen sensors’ in local governance



Matthews P, Parsons A, Nyanzu E & Rae A (2022) Dog fouling and potholes: understanding the role of coproducing ‘citizen sensors’ in local governance. Local Government Studies.

Local governments around the world are increasingly coproducing services with citizens, commonly as a response to austerity. A common approach is to use ‘citizen sensors’, relying on citizens to report issues digitally through web portals or apps. There is mixed evidence about how different citizens act in different environments with concerns about resulting (in)equity in outcomes. This paper examines citizen-reporting of maintenance of the public realm through a UK digital platform ( We find service requests follow a parabolic relationship between neighbourhood deprivation levels and reporting, but ignoring the contributions of ‘superusers’ there is a more linear relationship, with more reports in less-deprived areas. We find that the presence of significant infrastructure (transport, schools) leads to more reports, suggesting guardianship over journeys as well as residential neighbourhoods. We conclude that local government, when directly coproducing services with citizens, need to be careful to ensure equitable outcomes between neighbourhoods.

311; neighbourhood management; inequalities; citizen reporting

Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online

Local Government Studies

StatusIn Press
FundersESRC Economic and Social Research Council
Publication date online18/10/2022
Date accepted by journal15/08/2022
PublisherInforma UK Limited

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Professor Peter Matthews

Professor Peter Matthews

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology