National Portal for the Permanent Assessment of Clients’ Satisfaction in Water Supply and Purification-Sewerage Services
Mihaela MUREŞAN, Marinella TURDEAN
“Dimitrie Cantemir” Christian University
President of the Romanian Water Association
Abstract: The development and implementation of the National Portal for customers’ satisfaction related to water supply, and purification-sewerage services represents the main goal of a national research project developed in a partnership built by the involvement of the academic area, Romanian Water Association and a private IT company. The project aims at developing a model to measure the customers’ satisfaction, by designing the methodology, main indicators, tools, and the institutional framework for the assessment of the end-users’ satisfaction related to the water supply services. One main objective of the project is represented by the development of a virtual environment which will support the online interaction among the main actors involved in the evaluation of the water quality and in the decisional process concerning the improvement of this service. The main information sources used in the benchmarking process will be represented by the customers’ opinion and the water services providers’ technical data. The analysis and the correlation of these two types of information will support the identification of short-, medium- and long-term trends and scenarios concerning the quality of the water supply and purification-sewerage services. This barometer will be an important tool in the quality management of the public utility services.
Keywords: Customer satisfaction, e-citizen, statistic model, water quality.
Mihaela Mureşan, graduated in Cybernetics, is professor and vice-chancellor at the “Dimitrie Cantemir” Christian University in Bucharest. She holds a PhD in Economics from the Academy of Economic Studies of Bucharest, Romania. In addition to strong project management expertise, including at international level, achieved through over 15 years of activity as project manager in ICT and educational research and ICT application development, Mrs. Muresan has been working for over 10 years within the Romanian educational system, in the capacity of professor for Information Technology and Data Base Management Systems. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Vasile Ciomoş is senior lecturer at the “Dimitrie Cantemir” Christian University. He holds a PhD in Economics, being specialized in the environmental issues, especially water management. He is also the President of the Romanian Water Association. (email@example.com).
Marinella Turdean is a senior lecturer in the statistics field, at the “Dimitrie Cantemir” Christian University. She holds a PhD in statistics and has a strong experience in educational and research activities. She is also a scientific secretary at the Finance, Banking and Accounting Faculty. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
CITE THIS PAPER AS:
Mihaela MUREŞAN, Marinella TURDEAN, Vasile CIOMOŞ, National Portal for the Permanent Assessment of Clients’ Satisfaction in Water Supply and Purification-Sewerage Services, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 17 (3), pp. 107-116, 2008.
This article intends to present a research project financed under the national research, development and innovation scheme, which started in October 2007, and is the first one in a set of studies illustrating the progress of the project and the main research results, related to the ICT field. Consequently, this article introduces only the general concepts related to the customers’ satisfaction measurement in a virtual environment, and the development of a water virtual barometer. The authors intend only to provide the innovative approach and the general plan for the development of the project with its main phases and the results estimated. In line with the project progress, we intend to develop and publish a set of articles illustrating the concrete outcomes, the model developed, the technical innovative solutions and the research methodology implemented.
Public services referring to water supply and the treatment of the wastewater have a maximum importance for life quality. Due to these critical issues, the project aims at ameliorating the quality of water public services in line with specific standards, implemented by the National Authority for the Standardization and Control of the Public Utility Services. The services providers are represented by heterogeneous operators, who are acting in line with the national and international rules, but do not have at their disposal mechanisms for measuring the consumers’ satisfaction, according to quality management standards. The lack of the permanent observation, measurement and benchmarking tools has negative consequences for the consumers, especially for the citizens. The customers and their needs represent the main topic for the water supply companies, which focus not only on the number of the customers, but also on their satisfaction . Consequently, the project offers an innovative solution, based on a virtual framework development, which could facilitate to obtain the feedback from the consumers and have an informative role for the population and authorities, and will stimulate the improvement of the water public utility services. This new approach is based on the online interaction of the actors involved in the water public services as providers, quality monitors, end users, increasing the transparency by stimulating the pro-active behavior of the consumers. The end users are invited to fill in various online questionnaires in order to express their opinions and views in an objective way, without any political and subjective influences (including political preferences, personal frustrations, incidental events etc.), which can provide adequate information for the deep analysis and followed up by accurate decisional processes .
The proposed frame will represent a virtual water barometer which will indicate the real situation for water quality services, contributing through various tools to automatically provide some actions, such as: warning the population and the authorities in case of water system malfunctioning, generating alerts in case of accidents in normal water supply service etc., contributing to the decrease of certain risks referring to the health condition of the population and other negative consequences which can affect the life and/or the environment.
The project will contribute to the development of knowledge in the socioeconomic and ICT fields, focusing on the social and economic value of drinking water. In the ICT field the project aims at developing a web portal with an intelligent interface, which will support the interconnectivity of all actors involved in water services and the improvement of their quality. In the socio-economic field the project will contribute to the development of the citizens’ behavior models and the improvement of the efficiency of the water public services and their quality. In the field of statistics the project will contribute with new methods and research instruments for the consumers’ degree of satisfaction. The complex software product will administrate all the instruments, methodologies, results, interpretations tools, access levels, updating data mechanisms.
The software product will support the storage of the information in the database, the current update of the information and the complex data processing, in order to offer an accurate interpretation of the data. The interface will provide data graphic presentations of the indicators analyzed correlated with the demographical structures. It will also ensure a free online access to information in the benefit of the citizens and of the local authorities responsible for providing public services of water supply and treatment of the wastewaters.
The main results of the project are:
- The national web portal to ensure the online access of the citizens to specialized water services information;
- The automatically acquisition, storage and processing of the requirements and complaints of the citizens through the web portal aiming at measuring the quality of the services, identifying the possible crisis situations and warning the public authorities;
- Citizens’ behavior models in order to improve the interaction of the various actors involved in water services;
- New methods and techniques used in the survey and evaluation of the collected data, using a virtual environment;
- Efficient procedures for the management of the quality of the water services and crisis situations;
- Models for optimizing the allocation of resources by the local authorities.
The potential beneficiaries of the project are the citizens, the more than 1500 local authorities, the water services providers (approximately 100 licensed operators). The dissemination of the results will be an important pillar of the project and it will cover all the phases of the research. The transparency of the citizens’ perception regarding the quality of the specific water services could be a pressure factor for the effectiveness and the efficiency of the local public administration towards the management of a vital resource. The citizen becomes an active and permanent participant in measuring the efficiency of local management in the field mentioned above. The development of the citizens’ pro-active behavior leads to the development of the civil society, and of the civic spirit in general. On the other hand, because of the growth of purification expenses (sometimes also for treatment) and the inadequate behavior of the end-user, the service providers are rushing for the development of educational programs. This is an important positive impact on the environment. The satisfaction degree expressed by the end-users regarding the water supply and the sewerage-purification are strictly connected to the environment quality, as it appears as a consequence of the activities for collecting and treating residual waters.
We also try to improve the quality of the online conducted surveys, by using effective weighting systems that would bring the results of on-line surveys into line with other large scale random surveys, avoiding the disturbing subjective factors in the web-based approach . We take advantage of the effectiveness of the online surveys approach, as an alternative to traditional methods, by performing the surveys yearly and by motivating the people to have a more responsible civic behavior.
This project aims at developing a concrete tool to support the consumer policies, which need to be supported by relevant information and data in order to adjust policies and set the appropriate priorities. In order to successfully implement the proposed system a set of political measures will be needed to develop the organizational frame and to support the improvement of the water systems.
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