Thoughts

A place for education, information, and insights about the water industry.

Deborah Sherwin

Topics: Editorial

Four Ways Design Thinking Can Transform e-Government

September 8, 2015
| By Deborah Sherwin

When you reflect on the last time you interacted with a public institution, it likely tested your patience. If that experience was digital, it may have been buggy, cobwebbed with bureaucratic language, and fixated on pushing you back into the analog world with a form to print out. If we look closer at the ways government services miss the mark, we see an exciting design opportunity. We’re lucky to live this opportunity every day at WaterSmart, supporting water utilities with world-class digital tools, while building on the best practices documented by civic technology leaders such as the UK’s Digital Service, US Digital Service, and Code for America.

  1. Deliver Digital Services Instead of Websites

When public institutions try to “go digital”, that often means carving out a presence on the Web and calling it a day. While this checks a box, it doesn’t get citizens any closer to resolving their needs. For example, a PDF of restaurant

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Topics: Editorial

Thinking Outside the Bill

March 30, 2015
| By Deborah Sherwin

A water utility looking to build better relationships with their customers is often dealt a pretty lean hand. Common communication channels include a newsletter, a modest web-presence, bill stuffers, and—most prominently—the bill itself. The bill experience is predictable. A customer will sort out bills from an overflowing mailbox or inbox, skim through dense rows of numbers and tables, and zero in on the amount owed. If it seems generally similar to what was owed previously, they won’t give it much further thought—even less so if the customer is on auto-pay.

And why should they? It can be difficult to understand units on a bill (CCF? CF? HCF?) and most people believe they already use water judiciously. The bill doesn’t have much of a story to tell other than how much lighter their wallet will be when the check clears. With water, that amount is often too low in comparison to other expenses to merit much consideration.

This scenario

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