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Parliament opens up data platform



The Parliamentary Digital Service has said it is ready to take ideas from external partners on new uses for the data it manages

The Parliamentary Digital Service (PDS) is looking for partners to develop new uses for the data held by the Houses of Parliament.

Margaret Hardie, development manager for the PDS, and Zed Hadi, its principal data architect, made the call at the Open Data Institute Summit in London yesterday.

They said that over the past three years the team has developed a platform for the data and some internal functions, but now wants to work with external groups on creating new services from the data.

“Now we want to engage with the wider community to develop their own applications with the data,” said Hadi.

“It’s important for us to engage with the public and understand what they want from the data. We’ve done some work through blogs and events but definitely want to do more.

“We’re asking people to let us know what we need to do because that’s where the value is.”

Three year history

Hadi said the Parliamentary Digital Strategy was defined in 2012 and has involved understanding what data is held by the Commons and Lords, creating a platform and reusable data for internal and external users, setting up teams to work with the data and establishing the governance mechanisms.

The data resides in a NoSQL database, so it is not purely tabular, and can be modelled in RDF format, the standard model for data interchange on the web.

Hadi provided two examples of how the data has been used internally. One was the creation of a map for the House of Commons Petitions Committee to show where people have signed up for specific parliamentary petitions.

The other was PeerOracle, which provides information on speeches by individual peers in Parliament and their voting records. It also shows which issues are most widely discussed in the House of Lords and makes it possible to drill down into further detail.

Image by McKay Savage, London, CC BY 2.0 through Wikimedia Commons



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