Our utilities clients have raised the issue of infrastructure improvements on more than one occasion. These improvements are often expensive to implement, but the average customer sees no tangible benefit -- the water ran yesterday and it’s running again today.
Yet maintaining the pipes, lines and wires are critical to keeping water and power flowing to our homes and businesses. When it comes time to invest in these improvements, it’s hard to rally support when communities face other issues that can produce more visible outcomes when addressed.
Just how far apart are community leaders and residents about the importance of improving their communities’ infrastructure?
We decided to find out.We turned to our online panel of consumers and on separate occasions asked them to tell us which of 8 community issues are a high or moderate priority:
As we expected, there is a bit of a divide here. Our consumers believe that resolving infrastructure issues is more critical to community leaders than it is to them, personally. As noted in the chart, residents place more emphasis on water and land conservation efforts. That said, infrastructure still ranks ahead of 3 other items on the list.
As anyone who procrastinates on getting a flu shot will tell you, it’s harder to motivate behavior based on what might happen if you don’t do something than it is based on what will happen if you do something. Our community leaders are getting the message from their utilities that taking preventive measures is important to sustaining the well-being of their community. Now these leaders need to band together with their service providers to educate consumers as to why it’s important to invest in this critical area. But making infrastructure improvements “sexy” to the average consumer may be a bit of a stretch.
We welcome thoughts and ideas on how to make this a priority on the local level. But in the meantime, we plan to take this issue to back to our panelists using our Smart Incentives tool as a way to encourage creative thinking for solutions to real-life problems.
VP / Research Management
Michele likes to hijack TRC's online consumer panel to get relevant answers to her burning research questions. She loves asking questions relating to her favorite hobbies - TV and movies, golf, casino gambling and travel - and more often than not the answers can be generalized across industries.