Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru / Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is the largest Welsh Government Sponsored Body. It took over the functions of the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and the Environment Agency in Wales in 2013. NRW is tasked with making sure that the environment and natural resources of Wales are sustainably maintained, sustainably enhanced and sustainably used, now and in the future. One of those responsibilities is to ensure that bathing waters in Wales have good water quality. Bathing Waters are designated beaches, or inland swimming spots, assessed in line with the European Bathing Water Directive.
The Welsh Language Act ensures that Welsh citizens have equal access to public information in the Welsh language as well as in English.
With the Bathing Water data and applications being used directly by Natural Resources Wales and by Local Authorities in Wales, it was important that the service was able to work with more than one language. This affected the website, the bathing water widgets, and the published data.
Client: Natural Resources Wales
Our Role: Consultancy, data modelling, data publishing, app development
To develop a bilingual linked data approach and flexible web application, providing developers with the ability to choose a language on their applications.
The Natural Resources Wales Bathing Water Quality Data service was developed alongside the Environment Agency’s service in England. As NRW came into being, the specific needs of Wales required a particular focus. The service provides:
- a web based data explorer
- bathing water widgets – which can provide a customised, live feed of water quality data to embed on your own web site
- an API for developers to explore and query the data and to build applications
- the data
It is important that the explorer, widget and API allowed for the data to be presented in English and Welsh. User research highlighted that developers had the need for control over the language delivery. Customer feedback from an early version of the bathing water widgets highlighted the demand for Welsh-language content.
Our approach was to create a flexible system capable of handling as many languages as required. The linked data API is designed to support data encoded in multiple languages. Applications querying the API can return some or all of the data values by language. Applications can also rely on a default language, set in the configuration file.
Each of the bathing water quality applications are built on this intrinsic flexibility to meet NRW’s objectives.
The bathing water API is configured to return English text by default. This can be easily overridden by passing in an additional URL parameter. So developers can get just the data that they need: English, Welsh, or both languages from the same API call.
The bathing water profiles application then provides an easy option for readers to switch to a Welsh language view. For the widgets, the widget designer tool allows the language to be selected for that widget. A widget embedded into a Welsh-language page will display correctly in Welsh, both data and text. For each of these applications, text is taken from a message catalogue, in principle allowing for other localised languages to be used. The examples below are from Denbighshire Council for their 4 beaches (Marine Lake, Rhyl, Prestatyn, Rhyl and Rhyl East) in both English and Welsh languages
Natural Resources Wales like many public sector organisations in Wales has the additional requirement of providing services bilingually. Often this is not delivered when applications are built directly on data or is achieved through separate stacks. Our approach was to maintain the flexibility and create a system capable of handling as many languages as required. This was successfully achieved through the API giving developers the choice of what language to present.