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The City and Program Management Team have transitioned many aspects of the Program to a virtual environment by using various applications to hold project and Program meetings and to allow for progress to be maintained. Project teams are minimizing travel, and essential Program staff have returned to the Program Office following guidance and protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In addition to protecting project teams, the Program is also finding new ways to connect with contractors, the public, as well as educators and students. We’re also learning that virtual communication tools can be more effective than in-person interactions. Likely, many of these new processes will be put in place permanently to maximize efficiency and reduce program costs.
Because so much of our interaction with the contractor community has shifted online, enhancements have been made to the Contractors’ Corner on the CSO Program website. Both general contractors and small and emerging small businesses (SEBs) can now easily learn about CSO projects expected to bid in the coming months. Links are also provided so that contractors can easily access project descriptions and locations, early approximate quantities, bid dates and constructability review materials. The City of Omaha is also providing virtual options for pre-bid meetings and the Program is leveraging expanded electronic (email) notifications and mailed bid notices. Prior to COVID-19, contractors were able to participate in one-on-one constructability review meetings virtually. Additionally, materials used in those meetings are now available as part of the Contractors’ Corner. These Program enhancements provide helpful, easy-to-use tools and information that support the bid process and encourages competitive bids, potentially lowering costs for ratepayers.
The CSO Program has a successful history of student engagement that regularly highlights CSO project benefits and exposes youth to potential careers related to design and construction. With schools closed, the CSO Program quickly consolidated youth outreach materials for use by teachers, parents and students wanting to learn more about our efforts to improve water quality in rivers and streams. Resources include an educational video, activity guide in English and Spanish, water usage calculator, and green infrastructure information and worksheet. Students that complete activities can even earn a CSO-branded shower timer. Educational content has also been promoted to curriculum specialists serving schools throughout the metro.
Stakeholder and Public Outreach
COVID-19 may have changed the way we work with one another, but it has not stopped work from continuing. That has resulted in creative ways to keep the community aware of important, ongoing projects. What used to be accomplished through in-person public meetings or visits with neighborhood associations, has now switched to social distance-friendly virtual platforms and tools to stay connected. The team has been using email, phone calls, video conferencing, on-demand narrated presentations and even short videos to keep neighbors and businesses informed about CSO projects as they proceed through design and construction.
All of these Program efforts are valuable, safe substitutes for in-person communications, and will be continued as long as necessary.
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) – The City of Omaha and CSO Program continue to respond and adapt to mandated changes. City, Program Management Team staff and Project Teams have quickly adjusted to on-line meeting platforms and have prioritized electronic transfer of information. Construction progress continues as contractor partners have incorporated health and safety requirements and are practicing social distancing on job sites. All Program team members remain committed to advancing CSO projects, goals and objectives with little measurable delay.
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