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A Case Study In Technical Communications

730 words - 3 pages

In 2005, the City of Houston’s Bureau of Air Quality Control (BAQC) terminated the contract it had with a state agency, to conduct enforcement of state rules and regulations (Williams & James, 2009). Ranked consistently among the United States’ worst cities for air quality and pollution control, the previous collaboration with the state was ineffective with applications and processes that were cumbersome to maneuver through for both employees, entities, and citizens (Williams & James, 2009). The City of Houston’s BAQC implemented a new strategic plan, to internalize the functions the state previously handled, and included policy changes, better technology utilization, and most importantly, strategies for getting the community involved (Williams & James, 2009). The emphasis of this case study analysis will be on the technical communication aspects of the City’s plan to improve air quality.
Plain language means fewer calls from customers, less time for users to solve a problem, higher compliance rates, and fewer customer errors (“PlainLanguage.gov”). The previous reporting system was tedious, reports were hard to comprehend and did not encourage further communication or collaboration (Williams & James, 2009). Including citizens and other stakeholders as part of the audience, who were not familiar with the scientific and technical terminology, resulted in reports that included the use of first-person narratives, detailed descriptions, descriptive language and active voice (Williams & James, 2009). The BACQ has also revised reports to include a mixture of graphics and text to explain technical information (Williams & James, 2009). When necessary, the public can telephone City representatives for results and details of investigations (Williams & James, 2009). By making the information more accessible and easier to understand, through plain language and new distribution methods, to a larger stakeholder audience the BACQ was able to increase efficiency and community involvement.
In order to succeed, the BACQ needed to form community focused partnerships with civic groups, business owners, and other stakeholders in poor and minority communities (Williams & James, 2009). To accomplish this goal BACQ staff actively encouraged minority stakeholders to report complaints, participate in community forums and to assist investigators by collecting evidence. Neighborhood-specific projects in minority neighborhoods were established to evaluate and address the needs of the citizens. These programs required the...

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