GDS is looking for feedback on its alpha register of English local authorities
Team member Richard Vale says in a recent post on the GDS blog that this matters because a register is a special form of way to hold data that turns it into an authoritative source of trustworthy core “reference data” for third parties.
Since July, Vale’s been part of a joint push by GDS and the Department for Communities and Local Government on a new national local authority register for England.
In fact, progress has been so brisk a new alpha version of the site is available for evaluation.
The register could help local authorities build better sites, as services like paying council tax segment data according to local authority, or signpost users to the relevant part of their local authority’s website when provided with their address, he points out.
Vale shares a number of practical ways to move from static lists to the more active register model of working with your data, as well as how GDS and other stakeholders have been successfully collaborating on building the alpha version.
But GDS and DLCG know the register war’s not over yet. “Registers are valuable in themselves as canonical data sources, but it’s only when a register enters beta that teams from inside and outside government can have the confidence to incorporate them into their products and services,” he admits.
“These teams can then make full use of the API to use a live feed of the data, so that any updates to the registers are incorporated automatically.”
Two steps therefore remain to move from this alpha register to a beta, he concludes.
The first is ensuring the new register meets the operational standard which exists to build rigour into the updating and maintenance of the register, so it can continue to serve as the authoritative, trustworthy source of information on local authorities in England.
The second step is reviewing and incorporating any appropriate feedback from alpha, a step he says that needs feedback from the user community, available via the feedback form at the top of the alpha version, and which GDS is hoping will give it material to help build the next version.