Scrutiny Councillors look at work done to increase digital inclusion in Swansea

The Digital Inclusion Scrutiny Working group looked at the work done by the Authority to increase digital inclusion before and during the pandemic, the work already planned for 2021/22 and what the Authority has planned for the future, post COVID-19.

The Working Group (WG) discussed the Council’s Digital Inclusion Strategy/Framework. The WG felt that it is important to look at how people are accessing council services now as opposed to pre-pandemic as they recognise the landscape has changed rapidly since the start of the COVID19 Pandemic.

The WG felt that since many more people are now online in some form, the strategy should be more focussed on equality and the title of digital ‘equality’ framework should be used rather than the term digital ‘inclusion’ as this would better reflect the strategy moving forward.

The WG agreed that the Digital Inclusion Strategic Framework (DISF) needs to be reviewed in light of new data emerging post pandemic and to reflect the natural demographic shift over the coming years. The WG was informed that a draft DISF had been developed pre Covid and will now be reviewed.

The WG has requested to be contacted at the appropriate time to contribute to this piece of work.

The WG heard that a variety of methods of communication are used to reach Swansea residents, whether digitally included or excluded. The WG was particularly pleased to hear about the ‘Chatbot’ that went live during the pandemic to assist people when looking for information and signposting in relation to domestic violence. The WG felt this was a good example of how we can use our website to assist those who are most in need.

The WG heard that a new and improved council wide website is being developed. Proposed improvements include: good practice in accessibility and the use of plain English and Welsh language. The Web Manager is working with the Access to Services officer so views from different equality groups are sought. The new website is due to be delivered in the late summer, the WG have requested to be contacted at an appropriate time to provide feedback and thoughts on the new website’s design.

The WG congratulated officers for the good work done so far and especially throughout the difficult times during the pandemic. Overall the WG agreed that the Council is on the right track with its Digital Inclusion Strategy and do recognise that the Council is keen to make the right improvements moving forward.

The WG expressed wishes to revisit this issue on an annual basis given its importance and the work that is continuing to be done by the Authority to improve in this area. 

Please click here to view this meeting, read all reports and letters sent and received from Cabinet.

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