Predictive Analysis vs. Surveys

In 2024, it’s clear that governments and businesses alike are looking for new ways to build better relationships with their citizens. 

Over the past few years, we've seen the emergence of innovative digital engagement tools that can gather valuable community insights at scale. It's fair to say these tools have revolutionised the community engagement sector. They've proved critical for collecting the feedback data that can inform policy decisions, guide product development and deliver great outcomes for community projects. 

But while digital engagement tools like smart forms, surveys and polls have streamlined the process of gathering feedback, and made it easier than ever to analyse and report on that data, predictive analysis is now changing the game. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at how the transformative power of predictive analytics is challenging the place of traditional engagement tools, such as surveys, polls and community forums, while revolutionising the way we engage with our constituents. 

The limitations of surveys

Creating a great survey is an art. Luckily, smart form tools that you find on community engagement platforms like District Engage have made it easy to create, manage and analyse surveys. Intuitive smart forms use conditional logic to build forms that can deliver complex and nuanced responses, while quick-fire analytics can help you fine tune and pivot the survey to meet the audience wherever they are. 

But it still takes an expert to craft questions that will draw out more than one word answers, while at the same time using language that’s accessible to a broad demographic audience.

Read our guide to creating a great survey

Which is why, too often, traditional surveys can result in static and passive engagement. And in an era where community involvement is a dynamic, ongoing process, even the best crafted survey may not capture the full spectrum of community sentiment.

The rise of predictive analysis

So what is predictive analysis, and how can it help inform community engagement?

Predictive analysis leverages historical data to anticipate future trends in community behaviour. The process includes data analysis, machine learning, artificial intelligence and statistical models to find patterns that might predict future behaviour. 

By identifying patterns and trends, predictive analysis can help community engagement managers get valuable insights into the needs and preferences of their communities. 

This is the real strength of predictive analysis - its ability to provide real-time insights. Instead of relying on after-the-fact data, predictive analytics can offer immediate and actionable information, empowering community engagement managers to make timely and informed decisions.

Read our article on how AI is changing the face of community engagement

Predictive analysis vs surveys

Because it works in real time, predictive analytics can seamlessly adapt to the constantly shifting dynamics of community interactions. Unlike surveys, which often capture a static snapshot, predictive analytics constantly evolves. It’s a powerful tool to help community leaders stay ahead of the changing needs and preferences of the public. 

It’s also incredibly useful to help community engagement managers get a heads up on potential risks and opportunities. While traditional surveys can help to identify problems after they have manifested, predictive analytics acts a bit like a forecaster, and enables organisations to be proactive about resolving issues before they become problems. 

This shift to a proactive approach is to community engagement is a game changer, and could be instrumental for fostering a resilient and responsive community.


The shift from surveys to predictive analysis marks a significant leap forward in the practice of community engagement. Embracing this change is not just a matter of adopting new technologies; it's a strategic move towards building communities that are not just heard but truly understood and supported.

At District, we're leaders in the development of new technologies for community engagement managers. We work with experts in the field to develop  products that constantly evolve, and adapt to the needs of our clients. If you would like to find out more about our community engagement platform, and discuss our roadmap for incorporating predictive analytics into our smart form tools, contact us today.