"Esri has been a partner of St. George for years. We're able to improve our service to customers and make work for our crews easier. When COVID-19 hit and shut down about 90 percent of our normal interaction with customers, we were worried that we wouldn't be able to celebrate Public Power Week with all our customers. Thankfully, through some creative thinking and Esri's software and apps, we were able to engage virtually with hundreds of customers."
Taking Customer Engagement to the Next Level with GIS Technology
The City of St. George, Utah, Energy Services Department (SGESD) provides electric services to approximately 33,000 residential and commercial customers. Its mission is to provide services that focus on people and advance a thriving community.
As a proud member of the American Public Power Association (APPA), the City of St. George enjoys celebrating Public Power Week each year. Previously, customers and staff alike enjoyed an open house-picnic environment for learning, community fellowship, and fun.
Historically, staff have coordinated with local schools to highlight public power careers, conducted live-work demonstrations, and showed off their unique equipment. Additionally, the agency held joint activities with neighboring public power entities embracing Public Power Week.
In the wake of pandemic restrictions, the leadership of SGESD wanted a suitable alternative to mass gatherings. They set an admirable goal to be inclusive, accessible, interactive, and rewarding. The utility needed to be innovative, so the staff came up with a great plan to engage the community in a new way.
Electric & Gas
Challenge: Utility leadership needed a suitable alternative to mass gatherings for Public Power week.
Solution: A scavenger hunt-style game involved customers while respecting social distancing.
Result: APPA awarded the Excellence in Public Power Communications Award to SGESD for its innovative approach and overwhelming success.
SGESD uses a geographic approach to document the electrical system and support effective daily operations. Field staff put the data to work and gather new information using ArcGIS Field Maps, ArcGIS QuickCapture, ArcGIS Survey123, and ArcGIS Drone2Map. ArcGIS Insights provides analytics on the rich information sets. ArcGIS Dashboards and ArcGIS Web AppBuilder facilitate collaboration and efficient communication across the enterprise.
The creative staff at SGESD decided to organize a scavenger hunt-style game that would involve customers while respecting social distancing. They envisioned a series of virtual games targeted by age, from elementary students to senior citizens.
Employees used ArcGIS Experience Builder to prepare a storyboard with nine strategic utility sites to visit and age-appropriate quizzes. Players are guided with embedded web maps, and the quizzes are implemented in ArcGIS Survey123. When players complete the quiz, they are entered into a drawing for prizes.
The entire game consists of five interlaced designs. The home page welcomes users with descriptions and rules. Users then choose between four age-appropriate games. The versatility of ArcGIS Experience Builder allowed views for various devices with different screen sizes. In addition, all interactions occur in a browser without the need for downloads.
Participants visited the stops throughout the Public Power Week at their own pace. Each destination was marked with a sign telling a story and included the quiz answers. The quizzes are designed to be fun and encourage learning about the utility. Moreover, the signs have QR Codes and short URLs, so those walking by can join the fun.
Began in 2020, the scavenger hunt was an immediate success. The games saw 7,500 unique visits and received very positive feedback from the participants. In recognition of its innovative approach and overwhelming success, APPA awarded the City of St. George the Excellence in Public Power Communications Award in 2021.
Utility leadership immediately saw the benefit of this customer engagement. Customers also appreciated learning about diverse topics ranging from energy conservation to the utility's power portfolio breakdown.
Staff members appreciated the scalable no-code approach to building apps with ArcGIS tools. In addition, the cross-platform device support enabled the apps to be launched rapidly and enjoyed by many different customers.
The utility is now considering integrating the fresh digital experience with future in-person events for Public Power Week. For example, SGESD may invite customers to the scavenger hunt locations to witness live demonstrations or other surprises in upcoming years.
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