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Geographic information in eLocal government: evaluating online mapping applications in Irish local authorities

Mairead de Roiste


This paper evaluates geographic applications provided on Irish local government websites through the application of a method developed by Campagna and Deplano (2004). This method assesses geographic applications against categories of content and technology with reference to public participation. Results from this and previous studies are used to produce a cross-country comparison between Ireland, Italy and Denmark. Irish geographic applications are generally static and represent traditional offline services, such as development plan maps. However, Ireland’s provision of geographic applications online offers a similar level of content and technological complexity compared with the two other European examples. However, unlike Italy and Denmark, Ireland does not provide any applications which facilitate the download of data. A technologically oriented provision of one-way information dissemination (rather than a communicative, interactive or information sharing approach) has been taken by the majority of local governments in the three countries. While the online provision of printed material may ease access, this is unlikely to lead to increased public participation. The focus remains on information provision not information sharing. Encouraging public participation through eGovernment will require a more fundamental rethinking of local governance with a greater focus on providing the means to participate online.

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