Anacortes, Wash., selects NoaNet and COS to Speed Fiber Take-Rates

  • COS Systems
  • NoaNet (Northwest Open Access Network)
ANACORTES, WA — Located on Fidalgo Island, Northwest of Seattle, the City of Anacortes is using COS Service Zones to aggregate demand for its new community fiber network operated by NoaNet (Northwest Open Access Network), a non-profit municipal corporation which operates an extensive open-access fiber network and is present in every county of Washington State.

The recently announced partnership between NoaNet and COS Systems opened up the possibility to utilize the demand aggregation platform COS Services Zones combined with NoaNet’s expertise in demand aggregation campaigns to run a city-wide neighborhood based survey.

COS Service Zones Portal

The campaign is centered around Anacortes’ online COS Service Zones portal which is where residents are directed to show their interest level in the proposed project and share their current Internet satisfaction levels by taking the survey. The two persons managing the system and the campaign are Emily Schuh, director of administrative services at the city of Anacortes and Claire Ward, marketing and communications associate at NoaNet.

“The first few weeks we focused on setting up the customer facing portal with local pictures and texts as well as creating flyers and other marketing materials. With our experience from other campaigns in Washington State we had material we could replicate and a good idea about what outreach tactics would work,” says Ward.

Champion Orientation
“When we launched the portal on October 9th we had a well-defined plan on how to spread the awareness. Upon launch, Mayor Gere sent a personalized email to key City stakeholders and staff with a link to the portal encouraging them to take the survey and spread the word to their friends and family. We also hosted a Champion orientation where we invited community members who had expressed interest in learning more about this project to an information session. We prepared binders for them with information they could take with them when they went to discuss the project with neighbors, as well as stocked them up with printed flyers, tear sheets, and promotional items with the survey URL printed on them. After that champion orientation, we had ten more champions sign up in the Service Zones platform in just a few days. We also sent out an envelope printed with the survey URL on the city's utility bill mailout.” says Schuh.

Supporting from Local Media
Multiple local newspapers and publications have also run articles on the city’s survey, further bringing it to the attention of the community. In less than two weeks from launch more than 1000 positive survey responses were received through the platform, which is about 15 percent of all households in the city. The neighborhoods with the highest response were already at 50 percent positive response or higher. Now the focus of managing the campaign has shifted from getting the word out to interacting with residents directly.

“The city is engaging with community members directly through Facebook, answering questions and concerns that are commented on. We’ve also spent a great deal of effort on promptly responding to emails we've been receiving,” says Ward.

Serving an Engaged Community
“Anacortes is a very involved and organized community. The tremendous sense of pride and responsibility residents feel for their community is evident by how engaged they have been throughout this process so far. We have received excellent questions from residents, which of course puts pressure on the city to provide thoughtful answers. I think responsiveness has been key in Anacortes. With an engaged community, they are eager to learn as much as they can about how this project could be an asset to their community. Timely and thoughtful responses to questions, holding community meetings and engaging face to face, through social media, or via phone have all reinforced that this is a community project, which by definition belongs to the community. With a community of engaged citizens, this has thus far been a recipe for excellent response rates,” concludes Schuh.

The next step for Anacortes is another Champion meeting on November 16th to engage with new Champions signed up through the COS Service Zones platform, update all Champions on survey progress and initial results, as well as talk about the possibilities moving forward.

“As providers of the demand aggregation platform used by the city of Anacortes it’s really rewarding to see a campaign take off like this. We’re impressed by the speed at which NoaNet and the City prepared the launch of the campaign both in setting up the customer facing portal, but also the off-line marketing material. But what sticks out the most in the Anacortes project is that they have the best Champions group that we have ever seen in any project in the USA. One local Champion, Bryan Klein of the Flounder Bay Zone has referred over 90 neighbors to take the survey in just two weeks. That’s truly amazing. Now we at COS are crossing our fingers that demand proves to be good enough for the city to move forward and build the fiber infrastructure that we believe is as critical as water, electricity and roads in our modern digital world,” says Isak Finer, CMO at COS Systems

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