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IoA Talk - Sites 1

The second question posed was "How do we set up web sites to help us?"

The design of any site naturally depends on its purpose.  The two largest categories of IoA members are local government and consultants and should therefore be considered separately.

Local Government
In my view, most "noise" visitors to a local authority site will be complaining about noise;  accordingly, there are a number of features that could appear on a local, authority site -

  1. Absolute Minimum - the visitor should be able to search for "noise" - they may not know that "Public Protection" or "Environmental Health" deal with noise; also provide the departmental telephone number for dealing with noise
  2. The site could explain how noise complaints are dealt with and link to Bothered by Noise.
  3. If visitors can complain about noise by e-mail, it makes the complainants easy to reply to - an autoresponder can let people know that their complaints have been heard - free ones are available.
  4. If complaints can be logged by filling in an on-line form, giving the postcode of the complainant, the date, time, description of the noise, and source if known, then the data exists electronically and can easily be processed in spreadsheets reports, plotted on maps and so on.
  5. If you provide log sheets, the site could contain instructions and blank log sheets for the visitor to print off.
  6. If you leave DAT recorders with complainants, there could be instructions with photographs on the site of how to use the DAT.

We can look at how local authorities currently use the Net.  As a representative sample of local authority websites, the Institute of Acoustics Register lists 23 North-West authorities as having IoA members. The Tagish site purports to have a full list of local authority sites; in 2000 the results of a review of the 23 authorities were not inspiring.

Authority IoA lists e-mail? Web Site? Meets Minimum Std?
Allerdale no yes no
Bolton no yes no
Bury no yes yes
Carlisle yes tourists' site no
Chester yes yes no (N=National Lottery Advice)
Chorley no yes no (search broken)
City of Man no yes yes (search broken/ A-Z worked)
Lancaster no yes no (search broken)
Liverpool yes yes yes
Macclesfield yes yes no
Oldham no yes yes (search difficult to find)
Pendle no no no
Preston no no no
Ribble Valley no yes no
Rochdale no yes no
Rossendale no no no
Sefton no yes (ish) no
St Helens yes yes (ish) no
Tameside yes yes yes
Vale Royal yes yes yes
Warrington yes yes yes
West Lancs no yes (Not Authrsd) no
Wigan no yes yes (ish - didn't give phone No.)

Only one-third of the sample met the minimum standard; less than a fifth got "yes" in each of the test categories.  Conclusion - "C minus Could try harder".

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