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GDS data group creates Register Serialisation Format



New element of data infrastructure has been designed to create more flexibility in the updating and downloading of registers

The Government Digital Service (GDS) data group has developed a Register Serialisation Format (RSF) to support the use of registers, the authoritative lists of entities that provide an important element of the data infrastructure for government.

It has said the RSF will make register data more portable, so it can be moved from the software used by the host to others and provide more stability and longevity for the data.

The move has been described in a blogpost that says it came in response to research showing that users need to be able to download a register in a format that suits them, and that the custodian organisations want it to be easy to make updates.

Rather than making the data heavily dependent on the software used by the GDS team, the RSF contains a complete description of a particular register, which means an exact copy can be made in other software used by service teams and data owners.

“It allows data owners to make updates to their registers in an assured and consistent way, and enables data consumers to take updates from a register which automatically picks up everything added since they last took an update,” the blog says.

This simplifies the process of obtaining register data for users, who can download the entire structure of a register in a single file or API call. It also makes it easier to take a copy of a register and keep it up to date, as it marks each update and download and enables users to take just the entries they do not already have.

Users can also use their own update tools rather than one developed centrally or having adapt theirs.

New features foundation

The blog adds that this could provide a foundation for developing new features for users, and allow it to be more agile in developing new tools and features as it will not need to regularly change the register platform.

GDS is aiming to develop an ecosystem of registers under the Register Design Authority to support the interconnection of data between different organisations by providing consistent names for entities. It wants each register for a specific issue, which is maintained by a custodian organisation, to be used throughout government to provide.

Among those already developed are the Country Register by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Local Authorities Register by the Department for Communities and Local Government.


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