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Central San Engages Customers with Interactive Virtual Experience

Central Contra Costa Sanitary District in California marks its 75th anniversary by launching immersive, multimedia site.


The Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (Central San) provides wastewater service to nearly 500,000 people and more than 3,000 businesses in Contra Costa County, California. In 2021, Central San celebrated 75 years of protecting public health and the environment. To mark this milestone, the district launched an interactive online 75th Anniversary Experience.


In 2016, Central San held an in-person open house to celebrate its 70th anniversary, which drew about 1,000 customers to the district’s treatment plant. The pandemic made holding a similar public gathering challenging in 2021. The online 75th anniversary site provided an innovative solution by allowing customers to engage with Central San virtually.

The site includes multimedia content to provide an immersive and interactive look at Central San. Visitors can pan around mobile-responsive 360-degree photos of the district’s treatment plant and other facilities, “teleport” from one location to another, click on and explore a wide range of embedded content, and follow their curiosity to learn more about the wastewater system. Features include:

  • A self-guided audio tour of Central San’s wastewater treatment plant
  • A learning hub with hands-on science activities for kids
  • Videos, photo galleries and drone flyovers offering unique, behind-the-scenes perspectives of the district’s employees, equipment and facilities
  • Pollution prevention tips and resources
  • Historical facts and archival photos

In the 12 months since its launch, the site has collected more than 11,000 page views and 13,500 hotspot clicks. In addition, Central San has hosted 21 virtual tour events with a total of 923 participants, including eight classroom virtual tours with 224 student participants.

The site was developed entirely in-house by Central San’s communications team. The project took about six months to complete. The district plans to continue to maintain and update the site.


Here are some of the key steps Central San followed and resources it used to ensure the success of the project:

  • The district began promoting its 75th anniversary project internally through its employee newsletter well in advance of the site launch to build staff awareness and support. It also solicited input from across the organization to ensure all aspects of Central San’s work were reflected.
  • Central San built the 75th anniversary site on a platform that provides hosting for 360-degree photos and virtual tours. The platform also offers a hotspot feature that allows for embedding a variety of clickable multimedia content.
  • Central San’s digital media content specialist took 360-degree photos using a specialized camera with multiple lenses and software to stitch the images into single, cohesive shots. The 360-degree photos were loaded into the web platform and linked to create the site’s virtual tour structure.
  • To make the site interesting and engaging, Central San included a range of multimedia content including videos, photo galleries, recorded narration and historical images.
  • Besides a behind-the-scenes look at the wastewater treatment process, Central San included information on its residential recycled water fill station, household hazardous waste collection facility and other useful resources.
  • Central San created a learning hub for kids with hands-on activities and digital workbooks, drawing upon interactive materials created for the district’s award-winning school programs.
  • The district promoted the 75th anniversary site through messaging on its homepage, social media channels and community newsletter, which is mailed to 157,000 customer addresses. It also developed a news release which led to the site being highlighted in local city, town and county e-newsletters.
  • Central San hosted numerous online guided virtual tours and interactive Q&A events for customers, local organizations and school groups.