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Sunday 14 July 2013

A recent consultancy that we did for the Municipal Association of Victoria was a perfect match for Mediation Communications.

It comprised strategy, media, writing and a state-of-the-art use of technology to communicate a potentially difficult message.

There was considerable tension around how a study concerning rising sea-levels in Port Phillip Bay might result in alarmist press coverage and a negative impact on a subject that needs to be discussed coolly and rationally.

Consultant Aecom was well advanced into the Port Phillip Bay Coastal Adaptation Pathways Project when Mediacomms was engaged to mange the communication outcomes.  Most nervous were the municipalities which had volunteered specific areas to be used as actual case studies.

Of most concern were the inundation maps that show worst-case flood levels under various scenarios between 2011 and 2100.  At a glance, these maps look much worse than they are.  Even though the extent of flooding is defined by different shades of colour, they show vast areas of inundation. 

The fact that the vast majority of the projected flooding was only ankle-deep and, therefore, of nuisance value only, was not adequately expressed in these one-dimensional maps.

Our solution was to express this potentially alarming mapping as a series of animations where the legends indicating depth was represented by pictures.

Therefore, flooding of up to 200ml is represented as reaching just above an ankle on a gum boot and 840ml is represented by water reaching just above a car tyre.

This concept was very well received by project participants.

However, a concept only becomes useful when implemented.

Being a government project, any web-based solution would be subject to technological restrictions surrounding accessibility requirements.

The obvious way to present the mapping would have been to use Flash, but use of this technology is prohibited by the accessibility rules.

Our knowledge of the newly-introduced HTML 5 standard allowed us to engineer a solution which adhered to the strictest W3C standards while still telling the story in the best possible light.

Mediation Communications did everything on this project. We met and consulted with all the stakeholders.  We defined the primary messages.  We wrote the website as well as the press releases.  We did all the graphic design.  And we built the website.

As I said, it was a perfect match.

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