Directgov has just launched a new application called Moneyspeak, which can be shared via social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. It’s downloadable, embeddable and shareable.
The Moneyspeak application has been developed under the theme of Real Help and is designed to make sense of the often confusing and alarming economic terms everyone is hearing at the moment.
The application has two main functions. Firstly, a search bar can be used to enter a financial word or phrase, such as quantitative easing or fiscal stimulus, which then picks up on relevant references from across the web.
Secondly, it identifies information relating to the chosen search term by linking to the relevant Directgov pages.
It’s Directgov’s first steps into embeddable tools and feedback will be monitored for our next steps into this field.
Give it a try at http://www.direct.gov.uk/moneyspeak.
28 April 2009 2:10 PM 5 Comments »
by Paul Clarke
Planning a cycle route? Would it be useful to know where accidents-involving-bicycles have been in the past? Following the principle of “make the raw data available, and let others use it” - here’s a new data set.
Click HERE to link to the data.
The information is provided by the Department for Transport, and the first of what we hope will be many more raw data sets provided through this innovate site. At the moment it’s just one file - but it will go straight into our data wiki which should be ready very soon.
The data gives the locations (for the years 2005-2007) of accidents involving pedal cycles, causing personal injury, which were reported to the police. Are there ‘hot-spots’? Any trends over time? Could this support a “plan a safer journey” service? What about helping to draw attention to the need for road improvements? Over to you to explore some of the answers…
Further information on road accident statistics (including scope, definitions and limitations) can be found in the Road Casualties Great Britain report (2007 is the latest year available).
10 March 2009 4:59 PM 37 Comments »
by Brian Hoadley
On Saturday evening, I trekked over to “Rewired State: National Hack the Government Day” held at the Guardian’s trendy new offices in Kings Cross. The event, conceived and organised by James Darling, Richard Pope and Emma Mulqueeny, sought to demonstrate how government could make better use of open source and non-personal data to better serve the digital needs of its citizens.
80 developers produced nearly 30 hacks (with more to follow) relevant to the audiences not just of Directgov, but also NHS Choices and businesslink.gov.uk. In fact, businesslink.gov.uk’s very own David Dinsdale hacked together the basis for a Business Link Events app on the day.
The hacks used a variety of data provided by various sources and surfaced through Rewired State’s data wiki.
Though all of the output was interesting - and there were some really interesting ideas in there - the citizen-facing work caught my attention the most. In particular, I was looking for hacks that addressed findability and aggregation.
From the ones that met these criteria, I chose four applications for further review and discussion:
JobCentre Pro Plus
Find Me a Dentist
We’ll be working with these projects to see if they can be developed a little more and to share what it is about them that makes them innovative through this platform.
Personally, I think the day was a great success not only because it drew the attention of a very diverse audience to view the hacks, but because following on from the UKGovBarcamp09 in February and preceding next month’s OpenGov it keeps the momentum going around digital technology, open source, data and the role they have to play in the public services space.
Watching closely to see how they evolve.
9 March 2009 5:00 PM No Comments »
Written by Brian Hoadley and Paul Clarke
Thanks for your excellent comments and constructive feedback to the first - as it turned out, alpha - releases of the schoolclosures prototype. Roughly speaking they fell into three categories:
- Functionality (relatively easy to add with some changes already made);
- Access and reliability (is there a way to stop kids closing their school - some good innovative suggestions on this); and
- Data handling (inevitably challenging, given the way that closure decisions are actually made and communicated).
On Thursday Directgov’s main site launched a new “journey routing” service, based on the Local Directgov engine, to get users straight to the most relevant deep link on emergency school closures within their council’s website. This wasn’t meant to be a replacement for the prototype, but a quick way of offering a consistent way to access what information was being made available at a local authority level.
Another learning point:
Rumours of the existence of a prototype quickly led to users referring others to a new ‘live’ service.
So, given the snow was still falling - we temporarily withdrew the prototype and pointed instead to an explanatory blog post. You can find the live school closures look-up tool here http://is.gd/ivHc.
We’re now taking a step back, evaluating all of your feedback and are planning to add functionality enhancements on a new hosting arrangement (thank you for the feedback on the rough edges there!) and intend to bring it back imminently for further comment.
11 February 2009 10:55 AM 2 Comments »
Update: 5 February 2009
The alpha prototype is offline at the moment for maintenance.
5 February 2009 11:37 AM 5 Comments »
Written by Brian Hoadley and Paul Clarke
The adverse weather has shown us that sudden events need rapid and effective responses. Particularly when people need information from many places, very quickly. Sometimes information from people out there on the ground can get round this in a very simple way, but it can also have risks. One thing we know is that people want easily accessible, reliable information on which schools are closed because of snow.
We saw this need yesterday, looking at what people were coming to Directgov for. We offered two tools to help parents to contact schools and councils for the information, but could we do more?
So since then we’ve built this tool schoolclosures.org.uk. It ‘works’; it’s loaded with real schools information, and has been built to be very open and usable. Would it meet the need? Try it out for yourself.
Innovations like this need feedback and testing – and innovate.direct.gov.uk is where you can do it. If systems are very open, what drawbacks might they have? What would improve a service like this? How should we balance openness and reliability while still being useful?
Try it out – it’s not intended as a live service, but will help us understand what sort of products we can develop in the future so that government can give the best possible quality of service, easily and reliably, in times of need.
Schoolclosures.org.uk is a temporary working title for the prototype. When we understand how prototypes like this work in practice, and how they can be developed, we will bring them within the direct.gov.uk range of services.
3 February 2009 1:03 PM 52 Comments »
Written by Brian Hoadley and Paul Clarke
On Saturday we attended BarCampUKGovWeb09 held at the Ministry of Justice in London. It was an exceedingly well organised event, and we can report back that a great time was had by all. Kudos to the organisers!
The event timing had incredible significance, with the publication of Digital Britain last week and a draft of the POI Task Force Britain report issued in beta this weekend. There was a real buzz around how best to offer digital services in the government space. Key words from this event? Information. Consultation. Innovation. Local.
Information (data/content) figured in many of the sessions we attended. There is a need to better understand rights of use with Crown Copyright content, and to surface and provide non-personal data to the developer community to allow for the possibility of innovation to occur. There is a real challenge around how to find, clean, aggregate and provide non-personal data and information. It’s clear that although there is much work to do, there is also a real desire to tackle it and move forward.
Some of the most active debate centred on consultation. For whom? By whom? In relation to political theory, and in reflection of new channels and media available. As with the other topics, ukgovweb.org gives a lot more detail on the opinions, perspectives and conclusions aired.
Innovation had a voice as well. What does it mean? Who is doing it? Who is best placed to provide it? We were overwhelmed by the initial response this site received – in and of itself the uncovering of a latent need. But also rightly aware that this is just a first step: what happens now rests as much on engagement with a wider public information community as it does on government. By its very nature innovation is an imperfect process with improvement driven by collaboration and the iteration of ideas. The collaboration will come from many corners – from within government and outside it. We look forward to being a part of those efforts.
And finally, local government – and issues of localisation and locality – figured strongly, from “how to organise at the citizen level” to “how best to use web and other media to engage”. It looks as though a LocalGovCamp is on its way, built on BarCamp lines.
We look forward to continuing the many and varied discussions held with people over that long day and hope to see you participating here in the future!
2 February 2009 3:27 PM 2 Comments »
Written by Brian Hoadley
What? Hack the Government Day? We’ve heard a rumour that we’re not very good at computers.
If you want to spend a day mashing up data with other developers we recommend you sign up and attend this event. It’s going to be held in London on 7th March 2009 at the Guardian offices in Kings Place. We intend to add to the wiki of data sources being provided on the day.
To find out more (and sign up) go to rewiredstate.org. We look forward to the results!
27 January 2009 5:52 PM 4 Comments »
Written by Brian Hoadley
So, here we are. It’s a bit sparse at the moment, but bear with us. We’re really excited about getting this site live and the potential new relationships we hope to make with people. We’ve begun by collecting data links from various places and are working hard to identify new and interesting content that we can provide in the coming weeks and months.
We’ll be adding an email discussion list and providing the ability to upload ideas, links to or descriptions of new mash-ups and more in the coming weeks.
In the meantime for those of you lucky enough to register early, you can find some of us at BarcampUKGovweb09 on Saturday, 31st January 2009. We’ll be on hand to talk about the new innovate.direct.gov.uk site and hope to see you there!
21 January 2009 7:20 AM 3 Comments »