Thursday, 29 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 still need to add much more local data like leisure centres, schools, car parks and so on. The text results need pagination too.

I’d appreciate feedback on whether this is the right direction to go, can think of other datasets to include, or any other thoughts you have on it. You can find me at https://twitter.com/PhilRumens.
This blog is written by Phil Rumens, Vice-Chair of LocalGov Digital, lead for LGMakers and who manages the digital services team at a local authority in England.

The opinions expressed in this weblog are my own personal views and in no way represent any organisation I may have worked for, currently work for, might be thinking of working for, might not be thinking of working for or have never worked for. In fact having said that they, might not even be my views any more as I might have changed my mind so I wouldn't take any of it too seriously.