Social innovation: The Heureka+ Project
Heureka+, launched at the end of 2016, is a social innovation platform in which all employees can submit their innovative proposals and also jointly develop an idea with their colleagues, contribute to ideas or vote on the proposals of others. The Heureka+ platform permits direct and immediate interaction among employees to contribute to the Group’s development and innovation.
To fine-tune the focus of the proposals, the Heureka+ platform has been organised into areas or “challenges”. During 2018, 3 challenges were launched, for which a total of 39 ideas were proposed:
- the first challenge was on health and safety (18 ideas);
- the second challenge was diversity management as a corporate ambassador of inclusive culture (5 ideas);
- the third challenge was the opportunity to offer new services to citizens in the field of waste management services (16 ideas).
Among the ideas received during previous editions and challenges, including those listed above, several ideas were implemented in 2018:
- Car sharing app: a web application similar to Blablacar for publishing or viewing car sharing opportunities between Hera locations;
- Office 365 in the Cloud: installation of Office 365 to manage email in the cloud;
- Smart working: possibility to work at a location other than the assigned one, for one day a week;
- Heracover: making covers for mobile phones with environmentally sustainable materials;
- M’illumino di Led: the improvement of outdoor lighting with the use of LED technology;
- Circular economy applied to a public lighting system, to measure the economic and metric circularity of public lighting systems.
In addition, the following proposals are currently being implemented:
- Change the ending in the office: increasing separate waste collection in Hera’s offices;
- Hera without paper jams: competitions among Departments to reduce the quantity of prints and photocopies;
- Fast & Suistainable: competitions among organisational units to reduce the use of the most polluting fuel in the company fleet;
- Be safe drive smart: integrated systems to reduce smartphone use when driving.
Further challenges and improved functions of the Heureka+ platform will be launched during 2019.
Hera, Iren, Smat and A2A together to improve the integrated water service
On 8 April 2014 Hera, Iren and Smat signed a 5-year partnership agreement to carry out applied research to develop joint research, innovation and training projects in the sectors and activities connected with the integrated water service.
Three projects were developed in 2017-2018, on:
- breakage of aqueduct networks: analysis and decision support systems;
- integrated environmental modelling used to assess the impact of intense weather events to support the management of urban drainage networks;
- recovery of material from the urban wastewater purification cycle: struvite.
The latter was coordinated by Hera and was the subject of reporting in a Beacon Event of Ecomondo 2018 organized by the European Platform on Phosphorus, an event supported by the Hera Group.
At the end of 2018 the Partnership Agreement was extended to A2A.
For the 2019-2020 period we plan to develop further projects related to:
- recovery of material from the urban wastewater purification cycle, the PHA for the production of bioplastics (coordinated by Hera);
- early warning systems for monitoring the microbiological quality of drinking water (coordinated by Iren);
- control systems of the production of chlorites and chlorates in drinking water, monitoring of Legionella in the aqueduct networks (coordinated by A2A).
Besides the specific issues of each project, sharing the diverse experiences and approaches helps critically analyse the methods used, so as to set up a network of relationships – both within the companies and with the relevant external qualified partners – that will surely be very useful even after the end of the projects.
Forlì remote control hub
The Remote Control Centre of Forlì is the heart of Hera Group’s plants and networks: this facility is unique in Italy, and controls over 5,600 plants. Among the main innovative development and evolution projects implemented in 2018:
- Cloud Upgrading, which provided better interaction between map and systems (<2 sec); significantly increased speed (updates <3 sec) and the possibility for the operating structures to autonomously “take charge” of the systems in the cloud without the need to call the Technical Call Centre Room and have the operator deal with it.
- Cameras Project, to allow internal staff to view plant sections. The project became operational in October, installing the first cameras in the plants of the Rimini wastewater drainage system.
- Satellite Vector, to allow the connection of “isolated” plants that currently could not connect (lack of GPRS coverage) or as a redundant system for critical and/or important plants. Ten systems have been installed that are shared with the Hera group’s internal operating structures.
- Voice commands, to make the experience of using the device for operational activities faster and more efficient.
- 3D plants: the innovative function developed in 2017 for the Forlì and Servola (TR) treatment plants has been extended to other plants. This function provides a very realistic 3D overview of the plant with the integrated representation of all functional parameters.
Il Rifiutologo, an app for separate waste collection and more: over 300 thousand citizens use it!
Il Rifiutologo is a free app for mobile devices with several features, also available online.
As of 31 December 2018, the number of downloads reached over 257,600 and there are almost 309,000 active users of the application proving the usefulness of the tool.
In 2018, the Rifiutologo went online with new and smarter features as today the tool is able to provide citizens with the status of waste management services, geolocated for each address of residence. By searching for waste, in fact, users can find up-to-the-minute information on the individual local collections or the dates of door to door collections scheduled for their address, and even set up a reminder for the day and time of each collection. It is a great change for the service information that will be made available to users through the new customer site, as well as with the latest release of the app.
In addition, the “environmental reporting” feature is even easier to use. Residents will be able to use it to report a waste management services, sending a real time picture to Hera’s staff, and correspondingly receiving a report when the issue has been dealt with, besides customised alerts.
In 2018, 38,950 (+31% compared to 2017) reports were sent concerning emptying bins, cleaning roads and removing abandoned waste; 4,272 suggestions were sent on new types of waste to be added to the database (-25% compared to 2017).
The “Scan barcode” feature also popular. It helps users recognize materials by scanning the barcode printed on products and shows how to properly dispose of each package, by accessing an archive that as of 31 December 2018 includes 1,366,000 barcodes of the most widely used products. For packages made of multiple materials, the app can provide instructions on where to dispose of each component. If a code isn’t recognised, or if a type of waste is missing, citizens can report this via the Rifiutologo so that the missing information is added to the system. In 2018 there were 12,233 reports of bar codes sent by residents to update the database compared to 7,529 in 2017. The searches carried out by scanning barcodes increased from 282,804 in 2017 to 430,266 in 2018.
With L’Acquologo, the entire water service is smartphone-accessible
L’Acquologo (The Waterologist), released in July 2016, is a free application on the local water service for residents who live in Hera’s service area. It provides many useful features for users, from self-meter reading to checking data on the quality of the water in their municipality, and includes alerts for water network interruptions for ordinary maintenance work and reporting breakage or leakage of water on public land.
In 2018, the application was downloaded 6,392 times for a total of 31,800 accesses. Residents with Hera bills can use the Acquologo to report their actual water consumption by easily reporting their meter reading. In 2018 5,915 readings were sent in using this system (up 9% compared to 2017).
Hera manages the water service, providing good drinking water for its customers, that is complaint with regulatory requirements and carefully monitors the entire drinking water supply chain. To confirm this, users can use the Acquologo to consult the main quality data (average values) of the water supplied for each of the municipalities served by the multiutility, comparing them with the regulatory limits. In addition to this function, the application also shows the savings generated by the drinking tap water instead of bottled water. It is also possible to ask questions to experts and inquire about the local water service or the read the answers to frequently asked questions on the subject, in the “Experts answer” section. In 2018 there were 54,090 accesses to the Acquologo pages on quality, 8,676 views of specific qualitative data and 22 requests for further information through the “Expert answers” service.
Experimentally, in some areas, the app can also be used to report major water leaks due to breakage of pipes under the road surface. After taking a picture and adding a brief text, users can send the report directly to Hera’s Emergency Service. By using geolocation, the system can rapidly detect the location of the report and provide it to the service personnel who will go to the site. During 2018, 251 reports were made using the app (photographic reports and calls to the toll-free number).
My Hera: Hera’s services accessible using an app
My Hera is the completely free application for residential customers, to enable them to manage all their services, as well as to access information on the services offered by the company. My Hera was designed to be a clear and easy tool for customers to use. Users can also customize the content by deciding which parts to focus on.
All the functions can be accessed from the My Hera homepage:
- pay bills online and consult the bills archive;
- perform self-meter reading;
- monitor the trend and detail of consumption;
- display the nearest drop-off points and Hera Points on the map;
- access the “Rifiutologo” and “Acquologo” apps;
- discover commercial offers and new initiatives;
- request electronic billing;
- activate direct debit payment;
My Hera is also an additional channel to contact the company, since customers can:
- receive contract, bill and payment assistance;
- activate the bulky waste collection service;
- submit environmental reports;
- alert emergency services operators if a network problem occurs.
Since its inception, many changes have been made to improve and increase the functionality it offers. During 2018, the main changes were:
- Addition of new contact channels: My Hera customers can now leave their phone number to be contacted by one of our call centre operators, to request the reservation of a ticket to visit our physical offices or to start a live chat for help. The work carried out is in line with the CX improvement projects in terms addressing multiple channels.
- Addition of new digital payment methods: we have expanded the range of digital payment channels to include some of the most innovative methods for mobile devices. The new methods added are: Masterpass, Amazon Pay, PostePay, Jiffy, My Bank.
- Making My Hera available to some non-residential customers: small businesses (under VAT), sales activities and professionals.
- Creation of a specific section for customers under quantity-based tariff: to display their progress of disposals made.
- Documentary section: we have added the possibility for customers to download and upload documents relating to their contracts.
During 2018, My Hera reached and exceeded the threshold of 100,000 downloads.
Digi e lode
Digi e Lode, now at its second edition, is the project that brings together customers and the company to digitize schools in the area by promoting Hera’s digital services under the patronage of 89 municipalities in the area.
Digi e Lode consolidates the contribution that the Group wants to bring to the territory, as a continuation of the business strategies that identify innovation and sustainable development of the territory as one of the drivers for the development of shared value, in line with the objectives of the UN’s 2030 Global Agenda.
The project involves all primary and secondary schools, both public and private, in the Bologna, Modena, Ferrara, Forlì-Cesena, Ravenna and Rimini areas, providing Euro 100,000 to finance projects to promote the digitalization of schools, with students as beneficiaries.
During the 2017-2018 school year, Hera Group awarded the 40 schools (with Euro 2,500 per school) in the area that have reached the highest score. Projects carried out by the winning schools include: the development of computer study rooms; the purchase of 3D printers, interactive multimedia whiteboards, desktop computers, trolleys for storing and recharging notebooks and tablets, robotics kits and the purchase of tablets for autistic students.
The value of this initiative also lies in the construction of a partnership between the company, customers, municipalities and schools, to create shared value.
With the launch of its new 2018-2019 edition, Digi e Lode is doubling its prize money by offering an additional Euro 100,000 for the digitalization of schools. It is the same mechanism: every time a customer activates one of the digital services offered by the Hera Group, it donates 1 point that can be assigned to a specific school (this way it is multiplied by 5) or distributed among the schools of the customer’s Municipality. During the school year, the Hera Group will award 40 more local schools that have reached the highest score.
The digital services of the Hera Group that contribute to the project are:
On-line services, to manage services on the website;
- Information and support apps for virtuous behaviours (Acquologo and Rifiutologo);
- Service app (My Hera) for fast and easy management of contracts;
- Electronic billing, to receive it quickly while respecting the environment;
- Direct debit, to pay bills easily and on time;
- Digital self-meter reading (using On Line Services, the app, SMS or on the phone with automatic answering system);
- Hera Fast Check Up, to be helped to reduce gas and electricity waste.