Thursday, 15 December 2011

Evaluating the Usefulness of Websites Regarding Poole Regeneration

Poole Borough (the website referenced in AIB) ---> This website is produced by the local council and, as such, is very useful for information relating to regeneration in Poole. Containing all the information regarding processes taking place (summarised into a timeline) and moves by the council to regenerate the area, accompanied by key documents and publications available for download, this website is probably the first place you should visit if you want to find out more about the regeneration. The website is very detailed and accurate with good archives that are easy to navigate (with a seperate section for regeneration in Poole and also the Twin Sails Bridge) through with language easily understandable for a general audience, meaning it is suitable for use by a group of A Level Geography students wishing to find out more about the Twin Sails Bridge and other elements of the regeneration. Links to websites of all the companies involved in the construction of the bridges are provided, permitting further research into how/when the bridge is being/has been built. The reliability and accessibility of this source, agruably makes it one of the best factual websites to use, however, although opinions are expressed in some of the leaflets/booklets contained within, opinions from all angles regarding the re-development are not presented, with only those supporting the bridge and re-development published. Therefore, when looking for the opinions of locals, this website is not the best one to use.

Bournemouth Echo ---> This website of a local newspaper  provides frequent updates regarding progress being made with the Twin Sails Bridge and regeneration project, as with other newspaper websites like ThisIsDorset. The website contains good archives and search facilities, therefore making it easy to navigate your way around the information. As with any sources of information, it is good practice to validate statistics provided with other sources, meaning that often it is the amalgamation of sources that proves most useful and credible, rather than one single source. One benefit of this website over that of Poole Borough Council's is its more discursive nature/style of writing that permits presentation of opinions other than those of the council, with all readers having the ability to leave comments on articles, meaning opposition to such ideas are also presenting, providing one of the best sources of public opinions on developments.  This difference between this and a national news agency such as the BBC is that public opinions are not as frequently expressed, instead focusing on the facts/statistics and illustrating what is occuring through videos. Also the only items to appear are the major 'milestones' in the regeneration process, not those just of concern for local people meaning that, again, balancing the use of both news-related sources, is the only way to gain the full picture.

New Civil Engineer ---> This is one of the websites referenced at the back of the AIB for supplying the diagrams of the bridge (page 5 of AIB), therefore, it is a sensible assumption to make that this website could be of use for an A Level student wishing to find out more about this topic. However, restrictions are placed on what a student can access as you have to be a subscriber to read the vast majority of the content, meaning most typical Geography students won't be able to access the site. This issue is not limited to just this site, with a few other sites that focus on more specific, technical detials of the bridge and regeneration also having restrictions in place, meaning gathering of information is more challenging.

Design Council ---> Provides more specific articles regarding the regeneration from architects points of view. Different to some of the other sources as provides analysis and evaluation of the project, referring it back to three key points, scale of development, quality and sustainability. Compared to other websites it is perhaps not as easy to find specific information required as the vast majority is irrelevant to this topic but it does provide an invaluable perspective from specialists rather than public opinion whilst also suggesting an alternative regeneration proposal for Poole. Websites like this, which focus more on the specific details do however start to become less accessible to a general audience as a consequence of language used.

Poole People ---> This is the website of a new political party which aims to improve the governance of this borough. From the website, it is probably clear to see that they oppose the proposals and so this website provides some of the reasons as to why people oppose the regeneration project, via video format as well as text-based explanations. It is because of this that this website could be of some use to students researching Poole regeneration plans but its usefulness beyond supplying reasons for opposition is debatable.

Tourist Information ---> With regards to finding general information about Poole and its current tourist attraction, many of the tourist information-based websites, are not that useful, such as Bournemouth and Poole and Poole Tourism, as they don't provide many specifics regarding numbers of visitors etc. On the other hand they do demonstrate what already exists in Poole and the surrounding area, as well as a bit of local history. Despite this, in terms of utility for this project, they are perhaps the least useful sites to use.

Social Media ---> Increasingly used to express opinions and convey messages to people around the world. The council have created their own Facebook page for the Twin Sails Bridge to keep the public informed about developments and it is regularly updated with links to relevant articles etc. This is very accessible and used in conjunction with their website provides ongoing accurate information. There are other groups on Facebook set up by members of the public by those opposing the bridge building although, as with discusion forums (for example, this particular one expresses the opposition from the boating community to two lifting bridges), they do not seemed to be utlised that much. Their collective usefulness only extends as far as providing an insight into the opinions of local people, although they by no means represent always the general consensus.

YouTube ---> Visual analysis of the bridge can only really be gained from either visiting Poole itself or from videos and they are quite a few 'exciting' videos on YouTtube that you could watch of the bridge being built and lifting up etc. These allow opinions to be formed on whether this iconic bridge can really blend in with the surrounding natural environment and the visual impact of such a construction. Many of these videos are on afore-mentioned websites but having them all in one place is a lot easier!
Google Earth/Google Maps ---> This form of GIS is useful in that satellite images of the surrounding area can be used to help understand which areas are going to be redeveloped and comparing such areas with the location of important conservation areas. They also indicate road layout and so how builidng a bridge would help to solve issues with traffic congestion in the area. This resource is best combined with others, such as flood risk evaluations by the Environment Agency and regeneration plans outlined on Poole Borough website to provide a visual representation of information and provide greater spatial awareness of impacts. One of the biggest uses of such a resource is the guidance it provides when conducting a Risk Assessment in preparation for conducting fieldwork in an area as risks can be highlighted such as proximity to dangerous roads, suitable/safe areas for conducting a traffic survey and where is suitable for large groups of students to cross roads, for example.

Overall, websites as a whole provide one the best sources of accessible information regarding this topical and contemporary topic and whilst some are clearly more useful and reliable than others, it is the combination of the secondary data provided that proves most significant and useful, providing a means of validation and information covering all of the key research areas. 

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