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Virtual Communities A Critical Environmental Step

Virtual Communities A Critical Environmental Step -- Australian Expert

Emergence of virtual communities on-line is a critical step in the better management of environmental resources through the better management of information, says Australian virtual community expert Grame Barty.

Grame Barty is Managing Director of Harvest Road, a highly innovative web publishing software technology company that specialises in creating virtual community software.

He is visiting New Zealand as a keynote speaker at the Ministry for the Environment’s Information to Motivation Conference being held in Wellington June 5 to 7.

Grame Barty says virtual communities are being increasingly used in different areas such as health, education and the environment to create a framework for people with a common interest to communicate.

“For example it might be farmers concerned about water catchment, it might be a region, it might be people concerned about logging in forests or people concerned about glacier movement.”

He says the virtual community is not just about technology but is also about process. “It is about how you actually create a mechanism where information and knowledge about environmental components can be created and distributed.

“It means bringing together entire communities that have a common environmental interest and allow them to participate and collaborate in information sharing about that issue.”

Grame Barty cites the example of the Avon water catchment group in Australia that has problems with water availability and pollution within their area. Their virtual community allows them to keep track of what is happening within their environment from information generated by the farmers themselves.

He says the tools are web-based and contributors can distribute information in any file format.

“When you have a virtual community creating content, it might be information from one small individual such as someone who walks a particular track in a really tiny area and knows it really well.

“We have the potential for 100s if not 1000s of contributors to this virtual community – making available a huge volume of information that is timely and is accurate.”


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