Scottish government launches its first register

Authoritative list of Scottish local authorities enters alpha as Whitehall announces registers of government organisations, prisons and administrative regions

Scotland has announced that its first register has entered alpha phase – Photo credit: PA

The Scottish government has announced that its local authority register – which it describes as an exemplar of how future registers will work – has entered alpha phase.

Registers are described by government as “authoritative lists you can trust”. They are open lists of a specific type of thing, such as schools, and offer a single, quality-checked source of information.

The idea is to simplify and standardise the way government data is stored, and give users easier access to that data, whether they want to use it as a core reference dataset or to create APIs for new digital services.

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The UK government has been a proponent of registers for some time, and made work on expanding the registers it manages one of the priorities in the recently-published Government Transformation Strategy.

The Scottish government, meanwhile, has been working to develop its own platform of registers – something that was highlighted in its own digital strategy, published earlier this month.

The local authorities register is the first to enter alpha, and the Scottish government said it would be an “exemplar of how future registers will be developed and managed”.

Colin Cook, the acting director of digital in the Scottish government, said that the alpha was “just the start” of the government’s work to create the platform of registers, which would become the single access point for trustworthy government data.

“I hope that public bodies are able to provide the feedback needed to move this register into the beta phase quickly,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UK government has announced alphas of registers of government organisations, prisons and administrative regions.

The government organisations register brings together ministerial departments and executive agencies, but not arms length bodies.

Its custodian is Neil Williams, head of GOV.UK, because that team already holds a list of government organisations that meet the criteria used to develop the dataset, and Williams also manages this list.

In a blogpost announcing the creation of the register, Michelle Isme, a digital product manager at the Government Digital Service, said that the aim had been to start by producing a manageable register that can be properly maintained, and to start at the middle and build out.

For instance, she said, the service is also producing other collections of public sector body registers.

This includes the prisons register, which also recently entered its alpha phase. This includes the prison name, its address, the provider that runs the prison and when it began or stopped operating.

The Home Office digital team last week announced that it, along with the General Register Office, had launched the alpha of its registration district register. This lists England and Wales’ administrative regions – districts for the civil registration of births, marriages, deaths and civil partnerships.

The aim of this was to help keep data on register offices up to date, a process that has been time consuming and error-prone in the past as it relied on manually gathering information from local authority websites.


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