Accessing democracy

By Hannah Scarbrough | 5th Feb 2014

We attended a session hosted by the National Assembly of Wales, as part of their series on democratic deficit, to discuss the Assembly website and how it can be improved to allow bloggers and community journalists to access information more easily.

From a mixture of community journalists, web developers and Assembly staff, here are some of the suggestions which came out of the event:

  • To create a searchable archive of videos, where you can locate particular debates of interest by topic keyword or location.
  • The Assembly will be presenting transcripts of videos to appear alongside videos in the future.
  • It was suggested that it would be helpful if you could search the website by postcode and even perhaps include a 5 mile radius. It was also suggested that synonyms of search keywords could be useful.
  • Surgery times for Assembly Members should be published where possible, along with an RSS feed of this information.
  • It was discussed that the Assembly could email hyperlocal journalists automatically every time a petition is created relating to their area.
  • We suggested that, given the prevalence of mobile-only internet access in Wales, the mobile site could be more responsive and easier to navigate.
  • It was raised that there could be ‘location’ pages, relating to a particular area such as Rhondda, which lists all of the representatives of that area including Assembly Member, Member of Parliament and Member of European Parliament.

The main message that came through at this session, is that the Assembly website needs to be more user-centric – what information do communities need to know, and how easy is it to find? This message can be applied to all public bodies, who are looking to communicate with communities and engage them with the democratic process.

If you are a Wales-based community journalist, make your suggestions for the Assembly website by tweeting using the hashtag #demdef.

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