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GOV.UK builds new application for council links

29/07/16

Local Links Manager set to replace LocalDirectgov database in an effort to improve quality of links from central to local government websites

The team behind the GOV.UK website is working on a Local Links Manager application to manage the links from local authority websites to central government’s web portal.

GOV.UKIt is taking the step in line with the plan to retire the Local Directgov database, which currently provides the data for the links on about 130 services such as paying council tax and information on rubbish collection, in late August or early September.

According to an Inside GOV.UK blogpost, there have been problems with the links on Local Directgov as not all councils have been keeping them up to date, and about 10% are either missing or broken, which makes it harder for the public to find local services. The new application is being designed with the aim of making it easier to maintain active links.

The blog says a minimum viable product for Local Links Manager is already in place to take over when Local Directgov is retired. The team is planning to carry out broken link checks, and build a component for the task that could be used for other GOV.UK applications.

Functions for users to find their local authority and register offices are being added to GOV.UK, and the dataset of links to local authority websites will continue to be made publicly available.

Maintenance plan

Initially the GOV.UK team will take responsibility for maintaining the links to council websites, but soon after the new application goes live it will make it available to a few volunteers to manage their own links. It then plans to make improvements on an iterative basis.

Work is also taking place on improving the tool that uses data from Local Directgov to take users to online applications for licences and permits, and retire the transactions that are duplicated on the old database or that get very low traffic.

“There won’t be any changes to how pages on GOV.UK look, so users looking for local services and content shouldn’t notice any difference,” it says.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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