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Contactless customer service is a game-changer for Detroit Water Department

Welcome to the latest issue of The Districts, where we chronicle the people, issues and activities impacting special districts across the U.S.

Detroit Water Department Goes Contactless

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is transforming the way it serves nearly 700,000 city residents. A recently upgraded customer portal lets residents conduct all business with the department online — a move that’s been embraced by DWSD clients. The department says residents now complete 80% of service requests online. Besides improving customer convenience, the expansion of online services has had a big impact on DWSD’s internal operations. The department has closed three physical service centers and permanently moved call center staff to remote work, which has reduced absenteeism for call center employees by 70%.

Read more about DWSD’s contactless customer service initiative and other great ideas in our National Innovation Showcase. Have your own great idea to share? Tell us about it!

Get Insights on Growing Cyber Threats

If you haven’t watched it already, don’t forget to check out our recent cyber chat with Christopher Krebs, former director of the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). In an exclusive 30-minute conversation, Krebs gives important insights into how the cybersecurity landscape is shifting and what special districts can do to respond.

Watch the full webcast to learn more.

How Districts Are Addressing Cyber Risk

Given growing threats, it’s not surprising that 65% of special district leaders responding to our annual Special Districts Survey expect to increase cybersecurity spending. The national survey, which collected 203 responses in December 2021, shows that districts have focused cybersecurity investments on implementing tools like multifactor authentication and improving employee cybersecurity awareness. Survey respondents expect those same areas – along with fraud detection tools – to experience the biggest growth in deployment this year.


District Spotlight: Protecting Energy Infrastructure

A bill working its way through the New York State Legislature would enact new requirements on the state’s electricity and gas providers designed to reduce the risk of cyberattack. The measure would empower the New York State Public Service Commission to implement rules requiring energy providers to deploy monitoring tools to detect “unauthorized network behavior” in industrial control systems. The commission would also gain the authority to conduct annual cybersecurity audits on electricity and gas providers to assess their policies, practices and protections.

"New York's energy grid is a prime target for hackers and cybercriminals across the globe," said Assemblyman Mike Cusick, author of the bill. "We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and give folks who want to harm New York unfettered access to the grid.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul is poised to sign the measure once it clears the state Assembly and Senate, according to a governor’s office spokesperson.

Read more.