By Jeffery Robichaud
Technology and communication have evolved over the past decade to provide consumers with experiences that are personally tailored to them. Facebook feeds can be set to only show items from those folks and groups that interest you. Twitter hashtags, RSS Feeds, Tumblr and Blog feeds all can be tweaked to allow you to consume what you want, when you want it. Google news even uses algorithms based on your history and web searches to share news it thinks you will be interested in reading, while your sibling on the other side of the country might see a whole different set of items based on their own unique web-footprint.
At EPA, part of our responsibility is sharing messages about important items, whether they be public meetings, results of enforcement activities, outreach events, or grant awards. Traditionally these are shared via news release like last week’s Earth Day event in Kansas City (you can visit EPA’s news room here).
We also have our own Region 7 specific newsroom, however we have taken it one step further. Even though our Region only consists of four States, it stretches over 1,100 miles from the Oglala National Grassland in northwest Nebraska to the Bootheel of southeast Missouri, a nearly 20-hour drive. Environmental News related to Garden City, Kansas might not be as germane to folks living in Decorah Iowa (and vice versa). So several years ago our Public Affairs and GIS folks got together to develop a quick and dirty web map called News Where You Live that allows citizens to view news releases based on geography, not just date, or category. It is starting to show its age a bit given all of the new advances in web mapping, but it still does its job well reinforcing that old adage, if it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it.
Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7′s Environmental Services Division. His 15 minutes of fame may be over with his face already having graced newsprint from coverage of a first grade production of ‘Stone Soup’.