Leveraging Web Apps to Improve Customer Service
By Sanaz Jazi, GIS Coordinator, Parker Water and Sanitation District
At Parker Water and Sanitation District (PWSD), we have always been committed to providing high-quality, clean water to our customers. Currently serving 55,000 people in the area southeast of Denver, our district is on track to outgrow its status as a small utility provider. Explosive growth in this region have allowed our organization to serve beyond the jurisdictional limits of Parker. To fully support the growing population, we have gradually transitioned away from groundwater reliance and implemented a more sustainable approach to water and sanitation services. Our district constructed a 75,000-acre-foot reservoir, opened a state-of-the-art water treatment facility, and entered into the Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency (WISE) partnership, all within a relatively short time.
To notify our customers and the community of all the momentous changes occurring within the district, we hosted a series of open houses and published project information on our website. What our organization learned in hindsight is that we can always do better when it comes to outreach. We did well before, but we wanted to start doing great. Our new objective was to deliver better customer service and provide more transparency. One of the ways we accomplished this was by utilizing Esri web apps. With these apps, we were able to effectively provide our customers with important district information, share useful data through interactive web maps, and gather valuable customer feedback by using smart forms. Engaging our customers while providing them with the best user experience was made possible by these apps. Below are a few examples.
Hydrant Flushing Map
Throughout the year, our field team conducts hydrant flushing in and around the Parker area. This preventative maintenance task helps eliminate discolored water (an occasional result of natural sediments resting in the water mains) and provides the high-quality, clean water that our organization is committed to delivering. Customers may want to be informed on when and where this will be occurring so that they can prepare for the event and avoid using water during that time. We created a web app highlighting areas that are currently being flushed by fieldworkers. The web app is user-friendly and allows customers to visually identify where the flushing is occurring relative to their location, business, or home. When crews move to another area, the app can be updated in real time.
Capital Improvement Projects
Capital improvement projects consist of any construction involving infrastructure upgrades or system replacements. With this app, we are able to showcase any capital improvement projects that are planned, are in progress, or have been completed. It is just another way to be transparent about how capital funds are being expended and to proactively address any questions customers may have as to why construction is taking place in certain areas. With this app, we can quickly make updates and changes with minimal effort.
The Cherry Creek Interceptor is one of the many capital improvement projects being managed by PWSD. This project, nearly 2.4 miles in scope, will be affecting much of the untouched landscape near the Cherry Creek area (including its trails). Knowing that our customers may have questions and that the project could affect the community, we posted a dedicated Esri web app on our website, summarizing the project. We incorporated two maps—one to show the project area and the other for projected dates of construction. We hope this will better inform our customers and answer some of the questions residents may have regarding this project.
Water Quality Sampling App
This is another configured Esri web app published on our website. This online app serves as a resource for customers seeking the results from water sampling that we conduct around the area. This online map helps many home brewers and curious consumers get the water-quality data they seek. A user can simply navigate to the sampling station closest to their home and instantly access the data. This app simplifies the process for our customers and reduces the time they would otherwise spend trying to gather information from the district's Consumer Confidence Report.
Customer Feedback Form
Though we have yet to launch this, our next goal is to create an ArcGIS Survey123 smart form that crowdsources opinions from our customers. The topics would include water quality events, billing/rates, and any other customer service-related issues. The form, when completed, would be sent to assigned PWSD personnel tasked with disseminating feedback to supervisors. This form will offer our customers an opportunity to engage with our team with ease, comfort, and anonymity.
More Can Be Better
As a water provider, PWSD is essential to the community, but our responsibilities do not end there. We also understand the importance of inclusiveness and a welcoming culture when it comes to our customers. Increasing access to information and providing a platform for feedback are just a couple of the many steps PWSD is taking to strengthen its relationship with its valuable customers. Though our vision is Sustaining Life for Our Community, we also strive to provide extraordinary service.
It’s so exciting that GIS is now accessible to everyone. Only a few years ago we used GIS for “making maps” and now it’s a tool that we can use to help drive decisions, manage assets, prioritize work, and yes, still make maps. I look forward to continued integration of GIS into our everyday workflow!