Every spring, the second largest bird migration route in the world passes over Romania. Over ten thousand storks return home, and many build their nests on top of utility poles, which puts them at risk for electrocution. Enel, the No. 1 energy company in Romania, wanted to protect the storks nesting on their power lines.
Because the energy grid is so vast, it was challenging for the brand to identify nest locations scattered throughout the country. Enel worked with the Ornithological Society of Romania to build “The Nest Address,” an app that allowed Romanians to submit the GPS coordinates of any stork nests they may encounter. Once aware of a nest’s location, Enel deployed teams to secure the nests and protect the birds against electrocution.
Migrating storks often build nests on the top of Romania’s utility poles, and electrocution becomes a hazard for both the birds and the surrounding community. This is a little-known issue that is becoming more serious as the continent’s biodiversity declines. Because the energy grid consists of 90,000 kilometers of cable and a quarter-million utility poles, energy company Enel needed to devise a cost-effective way to locate the nests to secure them against electrocution. Additionally, the solution needed work in the long-term, as the energy grid is ever evolving and expanding.
With smartphone penetration in Romania growing by 400 percent between 2012 and 2016, Enel realized the perfect tool to locate nests was already in consumers’ pockets. The brand worked with the Ornithological Society of Romania to create an app that crowd-sourced nest locations called “Uite barza” or “The Nest Address.”
If a smartphone user saw a stork’s nest, he/she could submit a photo of it through the app. The photo, automatically embedded with the precise GPS coordinates, would alert Enel to the nest’s location so the brand could secure the nest against electrocution. App users could add additional data via the app including the number of birds sighted and the nest’s condition.
Not only could Enel use this information to protect the nests, the Ornithological Society of Romania could use the information to assist in their conservation efforts.
Enel and the Ornithological Society of Romania launched the app at a press event, inviting journalists and influencers. Additionally, Enel targeted smartphone users through a mobile advertising campaign.
The initiative reached an even greater audience once local authorities got involved. Mayors granted official street addresses to stork nests, and national news outlets reported on the initiative. The Nest Address quickly made prime-time news.
Consumers could download the app through Google Play and the App Store. New nest locations came in every day during the first season of the campaign, spring and summer of 2017.
The campaign was a success for Enel and the Ornithological Society of Romania. More than 2,800 nests and over 8,200 storks were identified. This means 80 percent of the estimated stork population of Romania was located. Enel found that 54 percent of the nests were in danger of electrocution.
Based on locations sent by app users Enel deployed crews to install non-conductive frames to the tops of utility poles to keep the storks safe.
The results are especially valuable as storks rarely change their nests. Each year the birds return to the same location, and now conservation experts can monitor stork population annually, as the program will continue on next year.