Service Types taxonomy - use and making changes

I’ve had a query on service type taxonomy terms from a supplier with two councils considering adopting Open Referral UK.

The supplier’s software applies terms from the service types list to which they would like to add terms. Queries on this LGA maintained list can go straight to their support team.

We’re getting quite a lot of feedback on the use of service types and we need to do some work to make them more usable in service directories. In general, directories only use a small subset of terms in the Services List. We’ll note and compare what easy directory is using and where they feel they need to deviate from the list.

Thanks Mike. I think you are saying that we should just send additions to the service-type list as an email to

We’d like to be able to change the mapping to circumstances as well. is that possible?
Perhaps there could be a number of different mappings as we try to find a de facto standard that everyone can then adopt.

Yes Ian. Open Referral UK is agnostic as to which taxonomies are used, but the LGA ones are well managed, follow the SKOS standard and are easy to read on-screen and via software. Of course I would say that :grinning:.So change requests for the LGA’s Service Types List should be sent to There are rules on what is included in lists (e.g. on the level of granularity) which the List Administrator can discuss when people submit new and changed terms.

Mappings, e.g. from a person’s needs or circumstances to appropriate types of service are maintained by the LGA. Searches using mappings (e.g. to find services addressing a specific need) can be built into directory software or implemented in service finders that consume data feeds from directories.

In either case the software can use the LGA’s mappings or define its own.

We’re still evaluating what mappings work best so I’ll discuss with colleagues means of letting people define their own mappings (maybe as variants to what the LGA currently proposes) with a view to us getting a better national view in the longer term. Local implementations can still override these.

I’ll post here when we have a proposed way of defining and working with different mappings.

As promised, I’ve drafted the document Representing and amending mappings between controlled lists to:

  • find which controlled list (= taxonomy) terms are relevant to which use-cases
  • devise a common way of expressing and using mappings between lists
  • make provision for local variations while still referencing shared open public lists

Please notes any comments you have either here or in the document.

We’ll be arranging a webinar to discuss this in a couple of weeks so we can agree on what extra tooling and work is needed to make it easier to use controlled lists effectively.

The LGA’s Application Programming Interface (API) for accessing controlled lists (i.e. taxonomies) and mappings between has now been updated. Here are some sample links for pre-existing and new web methods:

The final one of these gives the simple mapping format between two lists that might be used to configure a tool that is searching for services of all service types that meet a given need.

We would expect local variations of the mapping to be used for refined or simplified mappings.

Open Referral UK and SAVVI (Scalable Approach to Vulnerability Via Interoperability) work is happening to look at how we record and share local variations to mappings. That includes ibnvestigation of the NHS National Terminology Server which is used in the health sector.

Thanks for this @MikeThacker. The National Terminology Server is definitely interesting and could be a way to achieve the concept of Central Taxonomies as suggested by @Ian-DigitalGaps

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