New directions for Bath?

B&NES appears to be having a review with regard to how it ‘informs’ people about its city attractions. Things like how to get to the Thermae Spa, The Circus or even – maybe – the Museum of Bath at Work.

These  (l have picked at random) and many other museums, galleries and places of interest are what attract over four million people a year into Bath. People who spend a great deal of money in our World Heritage city.

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A street map ‘monolith’ near Abbey Church Yard.

Now B&NES has been sending out emails to many places of interest inviting them to attend ‘focus groups to look at the Bath City Information System.’

Seems it’s all to do with moving visitors more efficiently around the city and providing the right sort of information to give them background about attractions and the best way to get to them.

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A close up of the information available on the current street maps.

They’ve pulled in a Scottish Company called Streetwise Orientation & Navigation Systems Ltd – based in Edinburgh –  who have been sending out emails which inform ‘stakeholders’ that the company wants to  ‘gather opinions and input on the current City Information System. Streetwise has been tasked with reviewing the system and these meetings will form an integral part of our research.’

The key areas they are looking to cover include what network is currently provided, how easy is it to use, what does it consist of ( eg maps etc) and how digital media could be used.

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The information ‘monoliths’ you’ll currently see around Bath.

The focus groups will go ‘on street’ to look at the current ‘wayfinding system’ and Streetwise are hoping ‘ stakeholders’ will join them …..’to contribute to a project designed to improve the City of Bath for those who live there, those who visit and those whose livelihoods are dependent on the efficient movement of people around the City.’

The first focus group is meeting at the Pump Room on Tuesday, June 21, but each of the meetings will comprise a different group – including students, visitors and a range of local people.

I had a look on the Streetwise website – www.streetwisesystems.com – and was interested to read the following:

‘We come from backgrounds in design, business strategy, tourism development and tourism marketing, and have been in the business of visitor orientation systems since 1998. At Streetwise, we have an understanding of the visitor experience.

Origins

Our first pedestrian navigation client was our home city of Edinburgh. The city had long had a problem with pedestrian signage. The volume of attractions, monuments and places of interest combined with conservation concerns made the conventional finger-post signage system unworkable.

We created and tendered what was an innovative concept for a navigation system at the time which was based on three levels of maps to be featured on units around the city. The navigation units were to be integrated with a visitor map made available through Tourist Information Centres and local accommodation. We won the tender and so The Edinburgh Navigator was born and Streetwise Systems had its first project!

Evolution

Our research had shown that the traditional approach to pedestrian signage needed rethought. Signage has a dual function, it must not only help visitors find their way around, it should also help address the priorities of the destination – distributing people beyond the main thoroughfares, creating awareness of the range of attractions, bringing economic benefits and potentially becoming an attraction its own right sort of information about its attractions to enable them to do this.’

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One of the old finger direction posts being removed from outside the Pump Room.

B&NES in recent years took away all its finger posts – which pointed towards the city sights – and replaced them with ‘2001-styled monoliths’ with circular road maps.

What next l wonder in a city already swamped with street ‘furniture’ and one currently trying to find a more acceptable alternative to A boards to keep its business fraternity happy!

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How bad A boards used to be – before B&NES got tough!

A ‘carrot’ being offered after the use of a ‘zero tolerance’ stick in setting rules about exactly where an advertising board can go.

Your comments are welcomed. I have sent emails to both the Streetwise company and the B&NES department handling the focus groups – on the 8th and 9th of June – and have not received a reply from either.