Author Archives: ricallan

About ricallan

Read about me at www.ricallan.uk

Web Usability Guidance

A new set of web usability guidance has been published by the Central Office of Information as a follow-up to some work by the Taskforce.

The aim of this is –

To help Web editors and Web content developers incorporate the basics of usability across all public sector websites.

Richard Allan, Taskforce Chair

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Ordnance Survey Proposals

The Ordnance Survey has now published proposals to make changes to the way it makes its data available in a new Business Strategy.

The key aims are described by the OS as:

Within this framework, it has been agreed with Ministers to focus the business around five key areas. These are:

1. Promote innovation for economic benefit and social engagement
2. Increase the use of Ordnance Survey data
3. Support the sharing of information across the whole of the public sector
4. Increase efficiency to develop a sustainable business for the future
5. Enhance value through the creation of an innovative trading entity

The overall aim of this new business strategy is to provide the best balance between making information more widely available and creating a sustainable future for Ordnance Survey and the wider market.

The document is open for comment and is already attracting some interesting feedback.

Richard Allan, Taskforce Chair

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Improving Government Websites

The Central Office of Information (COI) has been working with Cabinet Office to respond to audits of the government web estate.

An important part of this is the development of guidance to assess the quality and value of government websites.

They have now published the guidance and are inviting comments on it until 7th April 2009.

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Working Together

The Government today published a new document called ‘Working Together – Public Services on your side’ outlining its vision for public sector reform.

This contains the comments below in the Strategic Government section which refer to the Taskforce report:

Delivering transparency

A focus on outcomes is only meaningful when it is combined with clear and reliable information on performance. Transparency that delivers accessible and useful information on the performance of services and the outcomes they achieve is at the heart of our strategy for improving public services.

The independent Power of Information Task Force published its report on 2 March. The report contained 25 challenging recommendations to government aimed at improving the use of information in this new world. The Task Force’s work has been recognised internationally as providing a cutting-edge vision, with examples of what modern public service delivery might be.

The Government welcomes the task force’s vision, accepts its overall messages and will be responding on the detailed recommendations shortly. We are already taking steps to implement this vision and in 2009 we will seek to deliver the following:

Open information
. To have an effective voice, people need to be able to understand what is going on in their public services. Government will publish information about public services in ways that are easy to find,easy to use, and easy to re-use, and will unlock data, where appropriate, through the work of the Office of Public Sector Information.

Open innovation. We will promote innovation in online public services to respond to changing expectations. The Government will seek to build on the early success of innovate.direct.gov.uk by building such innovation into the culture of public services and public sector websites.

Open discussion. We will promote greater engagement with the public through more interactive online consultation and collaboration. We will also empower professionals to be active on online peer-support networks in their area of work.

Open feedback. Most importantly, the public should be able to have a fair say about their services. The Government will publish best practice in engaging with the public in large numbers online, drawing on the experience of the http://www.showusabetterway.com competition and the http://www.londonsummit.gov.uk, as well as leading private sector examples like http://www.ideastorm.com.

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Open Government in Canada

Jennifer Bell of the Visible Government organisation in Canada has shared some good slides presenting her view on the open government agenda which are worth reading through.

Richard Allan, Taskforce Chair

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Final Report

We have now published the final version of the Taskforce report and will be circulating this as widely as we can.

The Cabinet Office site where it is published has now been closed for comments but feedback on the report is still welcome here on the blog.

A netvibes panel has also been created to track the #poit tag though this is not exclusive to our work so please ignore other unrelated content that sneaks in.

The next stage is for the government to give an official response to the report through Cabinet Office Minister Tom Watson MP.

Richard Allan, Taskforce Chair

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Report Update 2

The editing and presentation of the final report has taken longer than originally anticipated so it could not appear this week.

Our aim is to preserve all the beta version text and comments so this can still be read online along with the final report. And we are trying to create good clean document copies in various formats. All this is non-trival for the small Taskforce team to do but we are nearly there now.

In the meantime, you may be interested in looking at the UK government’s updated open source software policy and the excellent Netvibes dashboard for discussion about this.

Richard Allan, Taskforce Chair

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Report Feedback

The beta version of the Taskforce report has attracted several hundred comments which we have been working through this week as we draft the final version. I hope that we will be able to make this final version public at the start of next week.

Perhaps not surprisingly the section on geospatial data has attracted the most discussion with over 30 comments registered.

A number of these have asked for more emphasis to be placed on access to address and postcode data and others have picked up the issue of ‘derived data’.

On the derived data issue the guidance sent to local authorities about the incompatibility of OS and Google Maps licenses is very instructive. This reinforces strongly the view that there is a problem we must urgently address if a public body cannot plot the location of public services on a map and then display this on commonly used platforms like Google Maps.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

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Report Delivery

We have now produced a beta version of our report back to Government.

This will be open for comments for 2 weeks and we will then make any final edits based on the feedback before presenting this to our sponsoring Minister, Tom Watson MP.

It has been an interesting exercise over the last few weeks putting the report together on a wiki and then publishing it using blogging software (more WordPress) tailored to allow commenting. As a separate exercise we may document the Taskforce’s own working practices for others in government to learn from these (both the positives and the negatives).

Richard Allan, Taskforce Chair

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Gestation Period

This blog has gone quiet recently because we are now working on our report back to Government. I had hoped to do this in December but we have needed a little longer to do justice to the subject.

It will reflect our experiences over the last 9 months and offer some recommendations for the areas of work we believe Government should tackle as a priority.

The plan is for this to be published shortly in an online, commentable form. Full details will be announced here.

Richard Allan, Task Force Chair

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