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Showing posts from November, 2012

Why I'm Not Making Another Google

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been experimenting, creating search functionality based on local public services. 

So far I’ve used data from Elgin, Environment Agency, the Food Standard Agency, Job Centre Plus, NHS Direct, Ofsted and West Berkshire Council to create alpha.westberks.gov.uk

The idea is not to create another Google, that's a mistake some make when building new search functionality, but bring put together an easy way to access lots of disparate local data and link back to it. It displays text based results and where there’s geo-data against the record, displays it on a map too. 

Try searching for stuff like “doctors in newbury” or “rivers in pangbourne” and you’ll get some results back. Some of the information you get back, particularly things like live flood warning information isn't the sort of stuff you get in a Google search. 

Because I’ve used national data, it will work for anywhere in the country but there’s a long way before it’s anywhere near that stage. I…

Why smartphone apps aren't always the answer

It's happened for years, it happens in the private as well as the public sector and because of the move to deliver services via digital it's happening more and more.

What is it? Organisations purchasing applications and more lately smartphone apps as a quick fix, rather than a joined-up, strategic move for delivering services online.

I'm going to use fault reporting apps as an example. The type of thing you can use to tell councils about potholes, graffiti, and so on. There's a number of these around now all performing much the same task, many being sold in part as becoming really useful to people when more councils purchase them.

Whilst it seems that councils are doing right in offering more services digitally there's two main problems with this approach:


1) If you travel through the areas different councils look after, then you'll need to install apps for each location. 

There's no joined up approach to the way councils procure stuff like this, so for example…