Councils asked for feedback on LGA plan to create common data directories

Feedback is being sought on a Local Government Association project to standardise data gathered by local government and create directories of services.

Out with the old: LGA wants a local government directory that uses modern technology to offer citizens the services they need – Photo credit: Flickr, Jamie

The programme, which launched over the summer, aims to identify and match local services to the needs of citizens, but needs a consistent data format so the information can be combined into directories.

“For some time, the consideration of local public services sub-divided on local authority lines has started to become less relevant,” said project lead Tim Adams, programme manager of the Local Government Association research and information team.

“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.”

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At the moment, councils manage and publish directories of local services at a range of levels, such as county, district, parish or town level, but these directories are often only available as web pages or the data format is incompatible with other data sets.

These sources can be complex and hard to navigate, and the LGA wants to make better use of modern IT technology to better understand a person’s needs and suggest appropriate services, as well as helping people find individual services more easily.

The LGA is carrying out work to review existing local information systems and trial a new system to create databases of services, and as part this has asked iStandUK – a network that helps create local government e-standards – to propose a data format to describe local services.

This will be based on existing standards and good practice, and iStand has also set up a survey to gather responses from councils.

The survey asks if, and how, councils have created combined directories of services, how they are managed and what software they use. It also asks for more general feedback on what standards should be used in the LGA programme.

In addition to the creation of the data standard, the programme will be working to create guidelines, tools and networks to help publish data, and the development of a trial self-service app for locating the data and matching it with information about users’ needs.

According to Adams’ blogpost, the first part of the programme – to assess the current state of data and the barriers and challenges – will run until March 2017.


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