How Winthrop, MA Initiated a Vital Infrastructure Project While Protecting Public Health During COVID-19
The Town of Winthrop, MA was excited to begin a much needed infrastructure upgrade to its Central Business District (CBD) in April 2020. The large-scale, $14 million project, represented a major step forward towards bolstering the town’s economic sustainability and growth. The first week of construction called for a temporary, overnight shutoff of water supply to a number of Winthrop households. Unfortunately, work was set to start just as Winthrop was in the middle of facing the COVID-19 public health emergency, in which experts urged residents to maintain strict personal hygiene, particularly hand-washing.
Soon after the town announced that water would be temporarily shut off to some households, residents voiced their discontent and protested on social media the decision to shut off water service during the pandemic. This reaction raised the questions as to whether the city should begin the vital construction work and how could resident sentiment be improved despite this crucial infrastructure project?
The Zencity Solution
For months, Town Manager Austin Faison used Zencity’s project feature, an issue-specific dashboard, to collect and monitor discourse concerning the CBD infrastructure upgrade. Immediately following the April announcement, Faison saw that online conversations concerning the CBD spiked and that over 50% of the comments held negative sentiment. Faison dove into the data within the CBD project dashboard to quickly understand what was exactly driving the negative sentiment. He saw that residents were concerned about maintaining personal hygiene and protecting the construction workers.
An important catalyst for the Town’s future economic growth, Winthrop was determined to keep this project moving on schedule. Faison and his staff acknowledged resident concerns and used Zencity data to make the case to allocate more funds for the project in order to avoid water shutoffs and provide PPE for the workers.
Armed with Zencity’s real-time data, Winthrop was able to quickly pivot resources and efforts to address significant resident concerns while keeping a vital infrastructure project starting on time. Following the town’s shift in policy, negative sentiment in conversations concerning the CBD dropped by nearly 71%. The Town of Winthrop uses Zencity to increase its capacity to understand how the Town’s messages are understood by the community and assess their effectiveness on a daily basis.