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IUPUI quality-of-life survey finds more Indianapolis residents feel safe downtown


November 20, 2012

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Efforts to attract more tourists to Indianapolis with sporting and cultural events are shifting city residents’ views in a positive direction about how safe they feel, especially downtown.

The recently completed annual quality- of- life survey by the Department of Tourism, Conventions and Event Management at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis detected the shift . The survey, begun in 2004, examines Indianapolis residents’ perceptions on a range of issues, including how safe people feel at home, in their neighborhoods and downtown.

In past surveys, residents expressed concerns about how safe they felt, particularly when it came to being downtown, said Sotiris Hji-Avgoustis, a professor of tourism. “This is not the case anymore.”

The positive collateral impact of tourism efforts isn’t unexpected, although it has taken several years for the shift to show up in survey results, he said. “Researchers typically think efforts to promote tourism have a positive impact on a community, and it is happening in Indianapolis.”

Residents’ perceptions about safety are captured through a series of questions about how safe survey respondents felt at home, in their neighborhoods and downtown during the day and at night. Greater numbers of respondents reported they felt very safe or safe across these categories, but the shift was greatest when it came to feeling safe downtown.

Sports and cultural events attract city residents as well as visitors from other places, Hji-Avgoustis said. “Because city residents have had more opportunities to participate, to interact with others, and explore new things downtown, they realized downtown is as safe as anywhere else in the city.”

Another survey finding, however, spotlights a related problem. “With more people inclined to venture downtown and participate in events, they want a better public transportation system to get them to those events,” Hji-Avgoustis said.