Sharing outputs and expertise between councils
The numerous benefits of an improved open data infrastructure for councils are starting to emerge. Last week, data.gov.uk announced the launch of new ‘harvesters’ (no Wurzels jokes please) to help local authorities add their datasets to the national portal. Previously, this was a one-by-one process but these new harvesters help to ease the process and speed-up the re-use of open data publishing – and local government transparency.
Alongside CKAN, DKAN and Socrata formats, a new DataShare inventory link will automatically add categorised datasets to data.gov.uk, eliminating the need to use the old web-form approach. The inventory, hosted on the open data pages of local government’s LG Inform Plus, includes both datasets and the schemas that define their structures, so it’s possible to see schemas used by different councils for each service area. One council can learn from and apply another council’s schema if it chooses. Using tools like DataShare, it’s a simple process of pointing to another council’s schema to create a local dataset of the same format. Local government’s local open data incentive scheme includes a DataShare-compatible schema for each of its three themes, with more schemas on the way. There will be similar services for CKAN, DKAN and Socrata when these service providers have developed them.
Published open business data from English councils and fire authorities are also available through other tools in the LG Inform Plus open data pages, providing a growing list of local authority open data from a single categorised data hub. Datasets can be found by function, service, and format, or by searching for a keyword. In the future, data.gov.uk will be enhanced to provide similar filtering options that make use of the extra metadata, aiding the developers and other interested users to exploit the data for their own interests – a key incentive for open data publishing.
The inventory format was defined in work lead by Peterborough council involving consultation with wider local government information managers. Other councils are now beginning to implement the same schema in open source portals so more local government dataset inventories are being published in the same way.
For more information on harvesting dataset records into data.gov.uk, please take a look at the guide produced by the data.gov.uk development team, and don’t hesitate to contact the esd support team regarding the LG Inform Plus inventory link for DataShare. General queries about DataShare can be sent to CIPFA.