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GDS unveils GOV.UK Data Labs


Mark Say Managing Editor

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has begun to talk about an initiative in bringing its data science and user centred design disciplines together in a GOV.UK Data Labs service.

Tunnel of binary code

Product manager Ganesh Senthi said it has been set up to help the public sector make better use of anonymised data and data science in how they provide services through the GOV.UK website.

He said the goals are to help optimise content and user journeys, ensure that teams across government deliver relevant access to anonymised performance data, explore the idea of consent based personalised experiences on GOV.UK, and to spread data insights.

Senthi highlighted three areas on which the group has begun working.

One is the GOV.UK Intent and Feedback Explore Tool (GIFT) to bring together disparate sources of feedback, both qualitative and quantitative. It uses natural language processing and machine learning to categorise, theme and present trends in feedback for a web page, service, group of services or a topic.

This was prompted by the heavy volume of feedback from users needing to interact with government because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Relating entities

Second is govGraph, otherwise defined as a knowledge graph, to show how various entities relate to each other and bring out new patterns in the data. The goal for this year is to produce a dynamic representation of GOV.UK content, augmented with metadata, structured data and content, and cross-domain service analytics data and content.

“We’ve identified many opportunities where this technology could be applied, including question answering, supporting GOV.UK content with search engines and other third parties, cross-platform sharing of our content, and as an analytical tool for disciplines like content and service design across government,” Senthi said.

Third is an effort to enrich and structure more content on GOV.UK, amounting to around 450,000 attributes. The goal is to develop a corpus of government terms and a semantic graph that can be added to govGraph and used more widely across GOV.UK.

Senthi added that there are plans to increase the size of the team, develop ideas around solving problems, and build up the infrastructure.

Image from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, public domain via Wikimedia

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