We set up an Open Standards Board last April to help us decide which open standards to use in government technology. Selecting and implementing open standards will make our services better and give us more flexibility in choosing our suppliers. On Tuesday, the board recommended that we adopt four open standards to help solve two of our first user needs based challenges.
There was a clear – and at times impassioned – debate from the board members and the clear focus on the needs of users helped with the complex issues around each case. I accepted the recommendations wholeheartedly and we have now published the two agreed standards profiles, which describe how and when to implement these open standards in government.
What our new standards profiles help to fix
Agreeing the standards profile for cross-platform character encoding means that we can prevent accidental or unanticipated corruption of text that is transferred between systems, saving costs in detecting and fixing errors in the text, and providing more accurate information.
The standards profile that we’ve agreed for persistent resolvable identifiers is really a starting point for more work that we now need to get on with. When that’s been completed data re-users will be able to identify things, such as schools, hospitals or companies, using identifiers that continue to mean the same thing over time, helping them to easily understand and combine data about those things from different sources.
What else needs fixing?
The board considered a third draft standards profile on metadata and controlled vocabularies on Tuesday. It recommended the use case for this should be made clearer before the board will reach a conclusion on any open standards that might be adopted. We’ll therefore be taking another look into how government bodies should describe and share their information by raising new challenges with a clearer scope through the Standards Hub.
Now that we have tested out the process using these relatively simple challenges, the real work can begin. You’ve already come forward with 14 suggestions for what we should look at next, as well as the five other challenges that we’re currently working on.
It is great to see the enthusiasm and dedication that everyone involved is putting into making this happen – board members, advisory panels, the people involved in developing the proposals and the people who contribute ideas and comments through the Standards Hub. The Open Standards team have worked very hard to make this work and deserve all our thanks.
Keep pushing us. Keep coming forward with your ideas. And we’ll keep on working to make your services better and our technology more open.