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How the City of Phoenix is Preparing for the NCAA Final Four Events

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In case you didn't know, there's an epic weekend of college basketball about to go down and it's all happening in the city of Phoenix. While most of us will be watching the NCAA Final Four and National Championship from the comfort of our own couch, there are thousands of people who plan to make the trip to the Valley of the Sun and cheer on their beloved team. While this is absolutely fantastic for the local economy, thousands of visitors can wreak havoc for local residents who are trying to go about their weekend.

So how does the community prepare? To find out, we reached out to Milton Dohoney, ICMA member and assistant city manager of Phoenix and here's what he had to say about engaging the community before and during the event to ensure success in the community.

1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Phoenix targeted nearly 2,000 media entities and community groups across the country, communicating important information that will help them get to our city with ease. That included a personal welcome from Phoenix’s mayor, and helpful information about fans arriving at the airport, getting to their hotels, navigating through the crowds, getting to the game, and then getting home.

2. Grassroots Outreach.

Phoenix’s community engagement teams met with local businesses, residents, and community groups to share information about how the event would impact them and to answer any questions. This was of high value to community stakeholders who felt like they had a voice in the process.

3. Making public safety priority #1. 

Phoenix’s police officers and firefighters have been through three major sporting events, three years in a row. That includes Super Bowl 49, College Football Playoff, and now the NCAA Final Four. The city’s public safety teams understand what it takes to safely host an event of this magnitude. Additionally, they are expected to be ambassadors for the city. That might include, saving someone’s life or simply giving directions. The city’s police and fire chiefs have communicated these priorities with thousands of employees of all levels.

We are also working with our regional first responder partners throughout the region to ensure a seamless coordinated provision of public safety services.

4. Connecting with people, face to face.

Excellent customer service is a staple in Phoenix. We may be the nation’s sixth largest city, but Phoenix prides itself in “small-town feel” customer service. Employees across all city departments are expected to engage with the community to help them understand the impacts of an event, like the NCAA Final Four. For example, the city went door to door distributing 10,000 door hangers to homes in the event area providing important information about the event.

5. Saturating the digital world with information.

Phoenix believes that it’s better to know too much, rather than too little. Digital communication has become an exceptional tool in communicating real-time information, especially when it comes to emergencies. The city’s digital team acts quickly to post information on the city’s website and social media, which has become the number one method of communicating to thousands of followers.

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