API 1162 (Public Awareness Programs for Pipeline Operators) calls for pipeline operators to support communication efforts with a group of external stakeholders to support safety. However, this is not enough to truly advance pipeline safety on the path to zero incidents.
To meet the objectives of API 1162, operators need to drive towards:
- Advancing from “notifications” to engagement.
- Supporting performance measurement as part of the quality management Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle.
This was one of the topics of conversation during the 2022 API Pipeline, Control Room And Cybernetics Conference on May 3-5, 2022 in Savannah, Georgia. Specifically, API hosted a handful of presentations related to how to support Public Awareness programs by enhancing external stakeholder awareness, engagement, and outreach.
P.I. Confluence (PIC) had the opportunity to present our recommendations through a presentation titled, “Improve Stakeholder Engagement & Outreach Through Tools Built for API 1162 Efforts.”
The presentation was delivered by Russel Treat, the CEO of EnerACT (parent company of PIC). We would like to share key information about how you can take the next steps to support the effectiveness of your Public Awareness program with the application of quality management.
API 1162: Traditional Approach to Public Awareness Programs
The traditional approach to satisfy the requirements of API 1162 is to provide public awareness messaging to the various stakeholder groups through meetings, mailings, and/or public service announcements. These groups include:
- General Public
- Public Officials
- Emergency Responders
Typical notifications include sending out flyers/postcards and knocking on doors to notify these groups about your ongoing presence or one-off, project-based work in the area. For example, notifying external stakeholders about construction happening in the area to make way for new pipelines. This activity would be more cost-effectively managed through a digital program directed toward the stakeholders impacted.
For most operators, counting the number of mailboxes reached with a postcard has been the extent of efforts to satisfy the first requirement of API 1162. But, there are other requirements including comprehension, behavior change, and effectiveness.
- How do you know if the information was read?
- How do you know if the information was understood?
- How do you know if the information led to a change in attitudes, behavior, or thinking?
Notifications only meet the outreach requirement of API 1162. To take the next step with Public Awareness, operators need to create engagement in order to support performance measurement of the understanding and behavior modification requirements of API 1162 and subsequently identify areas for improvement that can be fed back into pipeline operations to support safety.
Pipeline SMS Changed the Game for Public Awareness
The Pipeline Safety Management System (PSMS / API 1173) introduces Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) and Stakeholder Engagement (one of the 10 core elements) for both internal and external stakeholders. Public Awareness, as an external stakeholder, is referred to in API 1162 for guidance.
The application of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, as defined in API 1173, needs to be applied to the requirements of API 1162, specifically as it relates to stakeholder engagement. PDCA is the basis of a management system.
PDCA Applied to API 1162 Public Awareness
- Plan: Identify/Document – Stakeholders, Audiences, Messages, Media, Analysis Methods, Identification of areas for improvement, and Continuous Improvement.
- Do: Execute the plans to engage the stakeholders.
- Check: Analysis of the performance in meeting the objectives of 1162 and identify areas for corrective action.
- Act: Execution of corrective actions to improve the program and the means by which its effectiveness is measured.
The key is being able to measure the effectiveness of your outreach efforts. This way, you can track, manage, and implement engagement. This supports continuous improvement by allowing stakeholders to voluntarily provide information to help determine if your messages are understood and affect behavior. PIC can help by implementing tools built for API 1162 that will help you advance your program.
Utilize Tools to Advance Beyond API 1162 Requirements
For example, let’s say that your operation is planning an excavation project to lay new pipe near a school. You should communicate with the affected external stakeholders in the area. However, instead of just informing the general public that you are laying pipe near a school and going about your business, you should engage with affected parties to ensure understanding.
As part of this exercise, you can develop behavioral story problems based on the scenarios related to your ongoing presence or the one-off project in the area. You can ask stakeholders to provide answers about what they would do in certain situations based on the project-specific information. Then, based on those responses, you can develop better messaging for future communication.
To support this objective, operators need to focus on digital enhancement capabilities. This step ensures that not only are you delivering the right message but that you are also delivering this message to the right people to validate that they recognize the events occurring in their neighborhood and how to respond if required.
Digitizing your Public Awareness Program allows for the following:
- Alternate form of message delivery
- By stakeholder
- By audience
- By location
- Message collaboration between operators
- Ability to measure engagement
- Ability to measure understanding and behavior modification
- Supports analysis to identify areas for corrective action
API 1162 includes language about “performance effectiveness” requirements in your Public Awareness program. Specifically, you are asked to reach a specific sample size in order to verify that your message is getting communicated. However, as mentioned above, without a digital platform you have no way of tracking whether the message was read, understood, and followed.
That’s why we developed software that enhances your current Public Awareness program by incorporating a digital component. Our goal is to help you create messaging, questionnaires, and surveys that can be sent to the stakeholders based on geographic location and role to test their knowledge of the messaging.
This effort provides us with structured data to help your operation perform the proper analysis for evaluating the effectiveness of the messaging. Then, you can determine if you need to change your message and/or refine the message to make it clearer what you are trying to communicate.
Use pSEc to Enhance Public Awareness Programs
Our pSEc tool (Program Stakeholder Engagement Communications) is a configurable mobile application for communication and information exchange that engages external stakeholders to support program effectiveness. pSEc enables operators to achieve the following objectives:
- Ability to target stakeholders by role, audience, and geographic location
- Satisfy the performance effectiveness requirements of API 1162.
- Build on API 1162 to measure stakeholder engagement.
- Support the full PDCA cycle of API 1173…
- Plan the information to relay to stakeholders.
- Provide the information.
- Allow for engagement.
- Measure reception and understanding.
- Identify behavior changes.
- Use the check to identify what to act on.
- Implement enhancements.
- Achieve incremental safety improvements.
One of the best parts about using our software tool is that you do not need to discard your current Public Awareness efforts. We aim to build on your current approach by adding a digital component. Over time, we will help grow your outreach program to improve outcomes by applying the quality management principles of PDCA.
We invite you to request a free demo of pSEc. See for yourself how we help operators improve their stakeholder engagement and outreach efforts through a tool that was built for API 1162 and can help operators advance their efforts.
– Contact us today to schedule a demo of pSEc. We look forward to discussing the capabilities of the software with you and your team.