A 2009 public survey revealed that 85% of Australians are at least somewhat interested in developments in science and technology, yet most Australian marine scientists argue that, besides their research publications they do not have the time or training to communicate their research to resource managers or the public. As such, resource managers and the public are often left out in the cold when trying to satisfy their scientific information inquiry needs. This situation is particularly acute on the newly World Heritage listed Ningaloo Coast in NW Australia where over 75% of the residents are dissatisfied with the communication of the science from the region – especially considering that recent government funding has led to 90 scientific publications from 2005-2011. Moreover, the Ningaloo Coast is faced with rapidly increasing annual human visitation, and the Ningaloo Marine Park zoning plan is up for review in 2015 – resulting in resource managers being eager to access the best possible science to utilise in their future planning.

Given that less than 1% of the recent funding was allocated to dissemination and communication, the Ningaloo Atlas experiment has been created in response to the need for more comprehensive and accessible information on environmental and socio-economic data for the Ningaloo Coast. A small team of marine scientists have embarked on a project to develop a user-friendly web and social media based information management and communication system to foster the gap created by the lack of communication by marine scientists to improve understanding, share information, raise awareness, and aid in informed decision making. In contrast to a similar product for the Great Barrier Reef where marine scientists have not engaged with potential end users and generated an Atlas based on what they as scientists believe is important and useful, the Ningaloo Atlas team has actively engaged with researchers, resource managers, and the public to listen to what they think and want in the product – with constant evaluation being a key component in the Atlas delivery. Given the diversity of the Ningaloo audience, the general increasing fragmentation of audiences, and the rapid expansion of multi-media elements in the education and communication sphere, we believe that the integration of evaluation at all phases of the project process has been fundamental to the rapid uptake and success of the Atlas by diverse users.

Visit us at http://ningaloo-atlas.org.au.

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 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

The ningaloo atlas
Listening to the people to communicate the science

Tyrone Ridgway   Australian Institute of Marine Science, The UWA Oceans Institute

Ben Radford   Australian Institute of Marine Science, The UWA Oceans Institute

Andrew Heyward   Australian Institute of Marine Science, The UWA Oceans Institute

A 2009 public survey revealed that 85% of Australians are at least somewhat interested in developments in science and technology, yet most Australian marine scientists argue that, besides their research publications they do not have the time or training to communicate their research to resource managers or the public. As such, resource managers and the public are often left out in the cold when trying to satisfy their scientific information inquiry needs. This situation is particularly acute on the newly World Heritage listed Ningaloo Coast in NW Australia where over 75% of the residents are dissatisfied with the communication of the science from the region – especially considering that recent government funding has led to 90 scientific publications from 2005-2011. Moreover, the Ningaloo Coast is faced with rapidly increasing annual human visitation, and the Ningaloo Marine Park zoning plan is up for review in 2015 – resulting in resource managers being eager to access the best possible science to utilise in their future planning.

Given that less than 1% of the recent funding was allocated to dissemination and communication, the Ningaloo Atlas experiment has been created in response to the need for more comprehensive and accessible information on environmental and socio-economic data for the Ningaloo Coast. A small team of marine scientists have embarked on a project to develop a user-friendly web and social media based information management and communication system to foster the gap created by the lack of communication by marine scientists to improve understanding, share information, raise awareness, and aid in informed decision making. In contrast to a similar product for the Great Barrier Reef where marine scientists have not engaged with potential end users and generated an Atlas based on what they as scientists believe is important and useful, the Ningaloo Atlas team has actively engaged with researchers, resource managers, and the public to listen to what they think and want in the product – with constant evaluation being a key component in the Atlas delivery. Given the diversity of the Ningaloo audience, the general increasing fragmentation of audiences, and the rapid expansion of multi-media elements in the education and communication sphere, we believe that the integration of evaluation at all phases of the project process has been fundamental to the rapid uptake and success of the Atlas by diverse users.

Visit us at http://ningaloo-atlas.org.au.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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