The Mayor of Basingstoke created his own Water World at the recent Basingstoke Kite Festival
An innovative piece of technology is putting customers in control of the future of water and sewage services in London and the Thames Valley.
Thames Water’s interactive tool encourages customers to build their own “water world” by thinking about where clean water comes from, where waste goes and what’s most important to them.
Mirroring the obstacles and issues faced by the water company when planning for the future, each user takes their avatar – a personalised rubber duck – to create a preferred world based on their answers. If they don’t like the outcome, including the prospect of higher bills, they go back and readjust their priorities.
Customers have described the new approach as “thought provoking” while another said it helped him understand how the company “balances spend with the environment and the community”.
Thames Water’s stakeholder relationship manger, Clare Carlaw, said: “Many people don’t often have to think about their water and sewage services and take them for granted, so getting our customers to interact and share their views with us can be difficult.
“This is why we’ve added to the traditional survey approach and made it more interesting and interactive. So far it’s worked really well, and has already encouraged hundreds of people to consider the issues and challenges we face as the UK’s largest water company.”
The device is based on gaming-style technology, aiming to be fun, informative and far removed from a traditional survey.
Thames Water customers can get involved and build their water world on the company’s website, as well as at a series of customer engagement events and roadshows on a specially-designed console, which is proving to be a big hit. More than 250 people have already used the technology at events across the Thames Water region including at the recent Basingstoke Kite Festival and online.
Clare added: “It’s the first time we’ve adopted this type of approach and so far the feedback has been brilliant. All the water worlds our customers build are saved so we can create a bigger picture across our whole area of what they want and what’s most important to them. By using the technology as both a public consultation device and research tool it’s proving to be an innovative asset in our mission to engage more with our customers, who ultimately through their bills invest in everything we do.”
The technology was designed and built by experts from Thames Water’s own technology alliance in partnership with Techniquest, Dark Green Media, 23Red, eftec, ICS and Future Cities Catapult.