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Councils urged to use agile, open source and platforms



LocalGovDigital publishes draft version of Digital Service Standard for local government

Common platforms, open source, open standards and agile methodologies should be prominent in local government's design of digital services, according to the draft standard published today by the practitioners' group LocalGovDigital.

It has drawn up the standard - which is for guidance and has no mandatory element - as part of a work programme that gained some support from the Government Digital Service (GDS), and much of the draft version reflects the priorities outlined in the Digital by Default Service Standard for central government.

It begins with understanding users' needs, putting in place a plan for ongoing user research, and getting a sustainable multidisciplinary team together.

Then comes a direct reference to the central government manual in a standard for using agile, iterative and user-centred methods to create a service, and in ensuring there is scope for it to be iterated and improved.

Other points include using open source tools, considering making source code open and reusable, and using open standards, design patterns and common government platforms where available. The latter point reflects one of the current priorities of the GDS in building common platforms for processes such as online iedntity assurance, payments and notifications for use around government.

Phil Rumens, vice chair of LocalGovDigital, told UKAuthority: "I'm keenly observing their development and think platforms such as Pay and Verify could work across local government digital services, if councils are given the right resource to deliver this."

Good practice

Most of the standard's 18 points reflects various elements of what is generally regarded as good practice in digital service design, including the collection and analysis of performance data, the reuse of existing data and the provision of assisted digital support.

It is notable that it includes a preference for using existing registers when possible. The GDS has recently identified the creation of registers as one of the crucial elements of building a data infrastructure for government.

LocalGovDigital has previously indicated that, following a consultation, it hopes to publish the first version of the standard at the end of March. Once the draft is available an initial group of councils will use it in producing and procuring digital services, and provide feedback for the final version.

The full draft of the standard can be viewed here.


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