The news arrived yesterday that Derby has decided to name one section of the inner ring road after a local figure.

Having already renamed the A52 dual-carrigeway between the city and Nottingham Sir Brian Clough Way who would be next?

An online poll run by Derby City Council shortlisted three Derby-connected people and opened the vote to the world.

John Flamsteed (the first Astronomer Royal) and Merlin (after the Rolls-Royce engine) both lost out to a virtual child of the city – Lara Croft.

The star of the Tomb Raider games and played by Angelina Jolie in the spin-off films was created by Derby-based firm Core Design in the 1990s. While no longer coming from the city her inclusion clearly caught the eye of online voters around the world with 28,000 people backing her and giving her 89% of the vote.

So the Osmaston Road to Burton Road stretch of the ring road will take on her moniker (another stretch will be named Mercian Way after the army regiment which recruits from the area).

It’s interesting that the council decided to use an online poll to make the choice – a great display of letting people decide on issues in their own community. It was also interesting that they made it a poll open to absolutely everyone though. I wonder how many of the 28,000 voters are Derby-citizens?

A great PR opportunity for sure and the cynical may say that is why Lara was included in the poll – for the cult / youth / cool vote. However, I think it is great that Derby’s digital heritage is being honoured.

So her pixels aren’t still honed in Derby and she caused Core (and later Eidos) a few problems but her birth there is an important part of the city’s modern industry. She’s not a passing fad having been well-established globally in the gaming and movie markets.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the council use more online polls or means of engaging with local (and not-so-local) people for other decisions. Twenty-eight thousand certainly sounds like more than the average for consultations undertaken in traditional channels (I am guessing there though).

In the meantime let’s all hope that driving along Lara Croft way doesn’t involve a series of tasks which end up making you want to drown things.

If you’re interested in digital in Derby check out the Social Media Cafe and have your say about its future in our very own online survey!

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