There is useful data in local direct gov – but can we get at it with a web service to create mash-ups for public benefit?
<warning – slightly geeky post coming up>
Last year we tried to raise awareness of the Youth Opportunity Fund and Youth Capital Fund with the Actions Speak Louder campaign. The campaign, targetted at young people – involved a national awards ceremony and publicity campaign – but the goal was to help young people find their local Youth Opportunity Fund grant making panel.
The only place we could find a directory of Local Youth Opportunity fund websites was through Local.Direct.gov.uk, and it seems like you can only search on the Local Direct Gov orange website. However, we wanted to be able to pull a search of local Youth Opportunity Funds into a widget on the Actions Speak Louder mySpace website instead of pointing people off to Direct Gov.
As far as I knew at the time, that couldn't be done. Local Direct Gov doesn't appear to provide an XML feed, or web service API. However, here at the BarCampUKGovWeb Paul Clarke who works with Direct Gov has suggested it might just be possible. He notes:
Hantsweb gave an interesting presentation at the last Directgov Open Day about how one local authority has used the Local Directgov functionality to enhance the way it routes interested citizen to relevant local services in its area (and close surroundings outside the county).
So I'm hopefuly. But with a bit more searching I'm little further forward.
So, I still have three questions:
1) Does anyone know if its possible to query the Local Direct Gov data as a webservice? Or do I have to always direct users off to the dreaded orange pages?
2) If it is – does anyone know how?
3) If it isn't – what would it take to make it possible?
Update: follow up post here