Welsh Government forms new digital information task force

The Welsh Government has formed a new task force in a bid to identify ways it can deliver more engaging and accessible digital information about policies and laws.

Plans for a task force were first signalled in August 2016 by Elin Jones, an assembly member at the government. She recommended the idea of creating a body formed of experts from the field of digital communications.

Leighton Andrews, who was recently appointed as a professor of practice in public service leadership at Cardiff University’s Business School, has confirmed that he’ll chair the group.

It’ll be responsible for reviewing way the government distributes information to the public, with the aim of putting improvements into place. In particular, there’ll be an emphasis on digital methods.

There are a range of experts from the Welsh digital communications industry sitting on the panel, who all have different backgrounds and expertise. They include academics, journalists and software developers.

BBC Wales board member Cath Allen, Companies House Head of Product James Downes and Emma Meese from the Centre for Community Journalism are just a few of the task force members.

Mr Andrews, the group’s chair, stressed the importance of the government developing digital approaches to distribute vital public sector information to the masses.

“How do we communicate the work of the National Assembly to a wider audience in Wales? People opt to get their news through a much more diverse series of routes,” he said.

“Some now get their news only from Facebook. More and more people choose to live their lives increasingly through digital and online communities, ignoring traditional media and news channels.

“The era where political institutions could rely on the mainstream print and broadcast media to maximise the reach of their message is under challenge.

“Mainstream media remains an important feature of our democracy, but increasingly bodies such as the National Assembly will need to package and push their content directly to the platforms that audiences are consuming.

Elin Jones AM said: “I am pleased that Leighton has agreed to head up this important piece of work.

“He brings a wealth of experience, not only as a former assembly member and minister, but also in terms of political and government communications and through his previous role at Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Culture.

“We are witnessing a revolution in people’s expectations about the services provided by news and information sources.

“We can’t ignore the pressures that conventional Welsh media outlets are facing and the impact that is having in terms of informing the people of Wales about the work of the National Assembly.

“Our own Senedd.tv and other communication platforms need a refresh. We can turn this media deficit into an opportunity to design our own means of communicating and interacting with the people of Wales, using all kinds of new technology and social media.

“We can take best practice from other parliaments and organisations and get the most innovative minds to help us plan for this work.”

Image credit: Les Haines