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A user needs assessment of the state of the environment (SOE) report for the City of Cape Town
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The City of Cape Town (CCT) produced its first State of Environment report in 1999 as part of their Integrated Metropolitan Environmental Policy (IMEP) development process. The first report was developed by the City's Environmental Management Department, assisted by the Environmental Evaluation Unit at the University of Cape Town. It was developed through a synthesis of the findings of specialist baseline studies, information gathered from literature reviews, issues and indicators workshops and consultation with other specialists and authorities in order to obtain a suitable reporting approach and structure. Every year, the progress in each theme is assessed in the SoE report through the collection of information. This information is compared to the information in the previous year's SoE report and long-term trends are identified. The CCT has been producing the SoE report since 1999 and has to date produced five full reports and four accompanying summary reports. There is however limited knowledge of who the users of this report are as well as how they use the report in the future. This study attempts to provide the CCT with a better indication of the answers to these questions. The sample group was limited to those users with e-mail addresses. The data for this study were collected through a questionnaire sent to all the individuals and organisations on the IMEP database who received the SoE report in the past five years. The questionnaire asked the users how they used the report, what they liked and didn't like about the reports and how the report could be improved in order to meet their information needs and requirements. The report is used by a number of different sectors of society, especially individuals from government departments. There is however a need to reassess a number of the aspects of the report. These include the use of technical language in the summary report, the gap between the full and summary reports, the needs of the different users, the use of different products and which products are suitable for the different users, the need for a more interactive website, the need for the information in the report to be up-to-date and the assessment of the themes and indicators.