COMING OUT OF THE GROUND: BRINGING FIELD STAFF INTO THE PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS PROCESS
Abstract:Recognizing that public education was essential to increase understanding about issues including sanitary sewer overflows, sewer pipe breakage and water quality, the City of Duluth has developed a proactive approach toward public outreach through an in-house workforce program.
Duluth developed a customer focused mission statement and includes in all job descriptions a component for communication with the public. Training for the work force is built in to the budget. All field staff are expected to work directly with the public. A promotional position of Water Quality Specialist (WQS) open to all Utility Operations workers was created to perform field investigations, and work one-on-one with the public, professional staff and outside agencies. A Project Coordinator (PC) position was created to oversee specific projects, write grants and serve as a link between the workforce, management, customers and regulatory agencies.
The outreach program incorporates field technology including closed circuit television and field equipment demonstrations. Education materials are developed in house with input from all components of the workforce. The team approach and employee involvement increases worker initiative and problem solving. The public role of all staff increases recognition of the expanding technical skills required for working with a collection system.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2005
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