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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Zencity, a company that tracks citizen sentiment on social media for local governments, announced Thursday it is acquiring civic polling firm Elucd.

Why it matters: Keeping tabs on citizen's feedback and responses to government actions has become a key job for local leaders who are dealing with multiple crises brought on by the pandemic.

What they're saying: The companies say the combination will give cities, counties and law enforcement agencies a digital platform to track a community's opinions, reactions and needs in real time. This will help local leaders address skepticism and misinformation related to measures to contain COVID-19, as well as efforts to roll out vaccinations.

  • "City leaders are making life-changing decisions every day. They need to be able to see what's working and what's not," said Eyal Feder-Levy, CEO of Zencity, which is based in Tel Aviv.
  • Elucd conducts smartphone polls of demographically representative populations, providing near-instant feedback from a broad sample of people.
  • The companies say they collectively work with more than 200 cities.

Reality check: While plenty of people are using social media and responding to smartphone polls these days while they are stuck at home, the tools have limitations.

  • Relying only on digital mechanisms for feedback will inevitably leave out the voices of citizens who don't participate in social media or online polls.
  • The companies acknowledge this limitation, but point out that their methods are still more inclusive than previous citizen engagement strategies — such as town hall meetings — that have high barriers for participation.

The bottom line: "We're not suggesting it should be the sole measure of community feedback," said Michael Simon, CEO of Brooklyn-based Elucd.

  • Still, he said, his company's system allows governments to get a snapshot of a community's needs, responses and opinions during a very tumultuous time.

Go deeper: Cities track social media sentiment through social media

Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
10 mins ago - Health

Overturning Roe could strain abortion access even in blue states

The Supreme Court is reflected in a woman's sunglasses during a march Oct. 2. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions could be harder to access even in states where they remain legal, because those clinics could be flooded with patients from states that have cracked down.

The big picture: This has happened before, and clinics fear the crush of demand would be a major problem in the immediate wake of a decision that would allow states to ban abortion.

A critical race theory founder says he's being inundated with threats

Richard Delgado. Photo: Courtesy of Richard Delgado

Richard Delgado, one of the founders of the critical race theory movement, tells Axios he and his wife have been receiving a steady stream of threatening messages since the coordinated, conservative campaign against critical race theory began.

Why it matters: Educators across the country — even some elementary school teachers — have faced harassment and threats over the past year over lesson plans that teach about system racism in the U.S.

Burnout, money, concern drive Harris turnover

Vice President Kamala Harris and another potential 2024 presidential candidate, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, appeared together Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Burnout, better opportunities and concern about being permanently branded a "Harris person" is driving some of the turnover in Vice President Kamala Harris's office, people familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Harris is not only a heartbeat from the presidency but, by virtue of her office, the presumed 2024 frontrunner if President Biden doesn't seek re-election. There's been an inordinate amount of disarray — and, now, turnover — throughout her tenure.