Local news publishers are using a £1m fund from the Google News Initiative to create a digital public notices platform.
It will see the creation of a common online portal, containing public notices published in regional and local newspapers across the country. This will include information about planning, construction, transport links, roadworks and licensing changes.
The Online Public Notices Portal will be fully searchable by postcode, type of notice and keyword. It will also be available within around 800 local news media websites.
With alert notifications, it aims to boost public engagement and “make them fit for the 21st century. “
“The new initiatives announced today will significantly boost the visibility of public notices by harnessing local news media’s massive online reach and highly trusted relationship with local communities,” explained News Media Association chairman Henry Faure Walker.
“This will deliver value for the public and further strengthen democracy at a local level – a key function of local news media.
“As the industry works together to deliver these initiatives over the coming months, it is absolutely essential that Government commits to keeping the partnership between local news media and local councils strong by retaining the statutory requirement for local authorities to publish planning notices in local newspapers in print.
“Whilst we continue to innovate digitally, we must also remember that there are still many people for whom online is not their preference, and they must not be disenfranchised.”
As well as the funding, Google will also provide a user experience expert, who’ll sit in on the steering committee to advise on technical solutions.
“Over the last few months we’ve all been reminded again about the importance of local news in connecting us to our communities. Alongside the news industry, the Government and local readers, we want to play our part in enabling a sustainable future for local journalism,” added Ronan Harris, VP &MD, Google UK & Ireland.
“Building on 20 years of work we have done in supporting the news industry, this project is an innovative new approach to ensure sustainable funding for local publishers and bring people the vital local information they need.”
A steering group of local publishers has been tasked with appointing a development partner for the Online Public Notices Portal and overseeing its delivery.
A beta version of the portal is expected to go live in the summer.