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THE DIGITAL UTILITY AGE: MOVING FROM BRICKS TO CLICKS

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Abstract:

The Internet offers wastewater utilities an unparalleled opportunity to achieve closer customer and production integration. A “Digital Utility” approach is described using the Internet to create new, robust, customer-oriented applications and improves its strategic and competitive position through the web. The questions are where to start for maximum benefit and what information to provide from both a customer and a business perspective.

Delighting the customer by compressing critical business cycles is a requirement of a Digital Utility and the Louisville and Jefferson County (Kentucky) Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD). Providing online access to customers using existing databases served through the Internet is regarded and pursued as an initial, vital tool. Utility staff writes to the database and customers access fresh data. Guiding principles for creating a Digital Utility are itemized in this paper and can be applied to business processes throughout the utility. This paper is not intended to blueprint the MSD web program. It is merely intended to point out proven and potential initiatives and to foster an interest to expand the portfolio of wastewater utility web initiatives.

Three specific functional areas are discussed:

Open Records distribution through the Internet


Pretreatment customer information submitted through the Internet


Procurement or supply chain management


All throughout the concept of Digital Utility is the high regard and benefit of information and its access. No longer can “bricks” or sheer physical distance or size of a utility be in the way of the ever-growing customer demands for convenient access to information. To improve compliance and environmental protection cost effectively and provide ever increasing quality of customer service, the “clicks” afforded by the information age must be harnessed and provided.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864701790860263

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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