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LGA aims for data format for local service descriptions


iStandUK runs survey on technical and customer service issues to support initiative

The Local Government Assocation (LGA) has launched an initiative for councils to provide better data on their services, and has called on them to take part in a survey to develop an appropriate format.

iStock_ChannelShift_MihaiSimoniaProgramme manager Tim Adams has outlined the move in a Knowledgehub blogpost, which says that it is aimed at developing a consistent way to describe all local services no matter what the context.

This would be made available as open data to public authorities and software developers to support the development of apps for people to find appropriate services across organisations and borders.

iStandUK, the organisation that promotes e-standards to support local services, is running the survey to help develop a format that will work for all councils. It includes technical and customer service questions, such as what type of services should be considered and how the data could be used.

New format ambition

Adams says in the blog that the pilot programme began during the summer, and is building on work that has been done over the past decade in local government in defining, structuring and standardising information on local services. It is also aiming to develop the new format as open data so it will be easier to integrate and re-use.

The programme involves reviewing local information systems that are currently available, identifying areas of best practice and developing a ‘fit for purpose’ data schema that could be easily deployed.

This will be followed by the assembly of a distributed data of local services, and the development of a data publishing process that includes easy discovery, validation and upkeep.

All this can then be tested in a series of apps, following which it could be rolled out more widely.

Innovation and flexibility

“Our vision is to develop an information standard that describes locally delivered services such that all local providers – including local authorities and their partners – can publish the availability of their services in ways to encourage innovative and flexible analysis and re-use,” Adams says.

“We are looking to work with local service providers, data consumers and software developers to trial the creation of a national service data schema against which local services can be published locally and then brought together and presented to consumers in targeted and flexible ways across organisational and geographical borders. 

“In short, we see the potential for apps to be developed which can combine these data with local information to assist people to find the right service choices for their circumstances.”

Image from iStock

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