Authoritative sources of data on government organisations and prisons launched as alpha products
Two open data registers have been launched by Government Digital Service (GDS) for a feedback period before full launch.
The registers – one of government organisations, the other of prisons – are part of the wider programme to release a collection of 50 public sector registers
The government organisations register contains data about organisations with a presence on GOV.UK, including ministerial departments and executive agencies.GDS expects users to include buyers on Digital Marketplace, the Government Property Unit and publishers on GOV.UK.
"Given that so much government data is used and re-used by multiple government services, it makes sense for them to draw this data from a single source,” writes Michelle Isme of GDS’s cross-Government Data Programme, in a blogpost. “That’s why part of the register creation process is finding and analysing duplicate lists of the same data that are maintained by different people.
“The need for rigorous checking and feedback loops was particularly apparent during our discovery work when we found, for example, government organisations such as the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) are described in a variety of ways across multiple lists. This makes comparisons and matching across such lists more difficult and hampers the free flow of the data,” she writes.
The other newly launched register provides data on the entire prison estate in England and Wales. Entries contain, for example, information on each prison's name, operator, unique property reference number, address, the date a field in the register was last changed and the date the prison started or ended operating.
To use a register, organisations will need an API which automatically pulls data from the register into their service.
Both registers have been launched as alpha products. The GDS team behind their creation now wants feedback from anyone interested in using this data in their products, services or processes. Once feedback has been incorporated, the registers will be released as beta, then live products.
Registers bring together one reliable, authoritative source of data to provide a neutral and accurate basis that any government departments and agencies can easily re-use in services they provide to people and businesses.
They are part of the Government National Data Infrastructure that the government committed to in its Transformation Strategy.
Among the other registers launched in the programme are lists of schools and local authorities.