Following this week’s post about Archant’s experiences with geotagging, Andrew Williams looks at how the BBC is using the technology in its prototype hyperlocal web service.
The latest incarnation of the BBC’s troubled local television scheme could be up and running by the end of the year, it was revealed last week. Academics and journalists at the Broadcast News and the Active Citizen Conference at Leeds University were given a sneak preview of a prototype BBC hyper-local web service which makes extensive use of mapping and geotagging in order to allow the audience to access a range of multimedia content linked to a local area of their own choosing.
BBC Yorkshire’s Catherine Hearne, who gave the talk, said, “The idea is that, subject to approval, we will be offering 60 local sites across the UK, and it will transform the way that people can actively engage with their local broadcaster.”
“This piece of work is really underway at the moment. It was piloted first and foremost as the BBC local TV proposition in the West Midlands, which was very successful. This is a further development of that, and we are anticipating that by the end of this year the BBC Trust will give us the go-ahead.”
Hearne’s demonstration showed how the sites will offer highly customisable ways of accessing local news, sport, travel, and weather coverage, alongside other content from the BBC – an example used in the presentation was content from the popular BBC TV series Coast – as well as “multimedia user generated content”.
She continued, “People’s notion of their local areas change at different points during the week, even. If you look at your local area on a Monday morning, then what you need to know is what the traffic will be like when you’re going to work. This will be quite different at the weekend, when actually you might want to be travelling 150 miles away, as well. Well the service will suit that, because it’s flexible.”
The project’s previous incarnations have faced continued criticism from local and regional newspaper companies, who fear that a more localised BBC news service will impact on their already declining profits.
Hearne was keen to allay such fears, demonstrating that the new local service will integrate links to local newspaper coverage. “There are of course other local news providers and we see ourselves as complementing the work that they do. Clearly the local newspapers will be offering a much more localised service that we will be doing even with this advance.”