Myself and a few colleagues from TPXImpact (formerly FutureGov) and the Royal Borough of Greenwich have been working on improving an open source reusable directories product called Outpost over the past few months. (Theres some more information on the github page for those interested as well)
It’s lovely to meet you all and to see some familiar faces!
Welcome, @hntpx ! This sounds great, thank you for sharing.
I’m eager to learn more about what kind of results you’ve seen so far from delegating the tasks of data maintenance to residents. Seems like you have some sort of verification system in place so that there are editors that receive and review submissions? So many questions about that, it would be great to find a chance to discuss
Theres been some interesting findings on the approval workflow.
When Outpost first launched we gave a lot more power to residents hoping to reduce overhead for staff, but it had some unintended side effects! We had to remove the ability for residents to choose the category for their listing for example. Listings were coming through with categories totally unrelated to the service being selected so staff were still having to spend time processing the listing anyway. Its faster to just check the boxes yourself than find out which ones to uncheck!
I think in future versions we’d look to either offer a way to let residents make suggestions as to where they would like their listing go and the admin interface would use that suggestion as part of the workflow. Tags would be useful too.
Its that the age old question of who are categories for? do you divide by life events, department with their own sub categories or age ranges? Outpost is category agnostic at the moment, it lets use slices of the categories on directories or start at the top level.
Actually, one of the things we want to explore more at some point in open referral is the vocabularies. We’ve not implemented them yet as each time we’ve implemented a directory the options in the vocabularies have been too granular or aren’t suited to both staff and users.
Outpost has access to an ofsted feed client which transforms the ofsted feed into a format outpost can use, which it then uses to create linked services. Admins can create services, amend existing ones when changes come through and archive serviced when they’re taken out of the ofsted feed. IIRC you can automate this process too but I didn’t work on the project until right at the very end so I’m not familiar with that part.
API feeds for all! I’ve love to be able to merge open referral feeds. It feels like it would solve so many problems and open up all sorts of exciting possibilities!
That’s great @hntpx and thanks for pointing to the source code. That page mentions OFTSED_USERNAME, OFTSED_PASSWORD, OFTSED_CERTIFICATE and OFTSED_PRIVATE_KEY. Do you know how to get hold of these? Does TPXImpact/Outpost have a key that provides access to data pertinent to all English councils?
I’m also interested in why the Ofsted feed is protected and what, if any, data needs to be removed before it can be put in an Open Referral UK open feed.
I’ve asked these questions many times before so you may well not have all the answers but if you or others can help, I’d be very grateful.
These are issued by Ofsted to the relevant local authority - when building the Etch directory project for Southampton City Council, Ofsted would not issue these directly to us, even after authorisation. The scope of the key only provides a feed for the specific LA’s geography.
It’s protected by significant measures (IP allowlist, SSL client cert, and password)! It’s a SOAP service that contains quite a bit of private data, including childminder’s personal addresses and phone numbers, for example; these are flagged as ‘private/not for publishing’.
Yes, the Early Years team at Southampton City Council use that data internally; our Umbraco-based backoffice gives them a number of views and reports/exports on that data, but we’re obviously not publishing it.