dxw blog

Reforming Ordnance Survey

People have been talking about the Ordnance Survey rather a lot recently. It’s a very strange beast. It has mountains of really useful data: electoral boundaries, postcode databases and the locations of all sorts of buildings, not to mention roads, railways and green spaces. Unfortunately, it’s a quasi-independent body, which has to pay its own […]

ScenicOrNot: finding Great Britain’s pretty places

Last week, we finished a new project. MySociety commissioned us to produce ScenicOrNot. They want to create a “database of scenicness”: something that identifies pretty places and their locations. They came to us with the idea for the site, and we put it together for them over a couple of weeks. The idea behind ScenicOrNot […]

JobcentreProPlus, tricky geocoding and unreliable datasets

One of the problems with working with large datasets — especially when you’re scraping them — is that they don’t always work the way one might think. We’ve recently had reports that JobcentreProPlus.com turns up jobs that aren’t close to the postcode that the user entered when they started their search. We’ve done a bit […]

The Office of National Statistics and Postcodes

Here’s a story from FreeOurData which is, quite frankly, incredible. The Office of National Statistics, in preparing for the next census, has found that the postcode databases offered by the Royal Mail and Ordnance Survey aren’t accurate enough for their purposes. Their solution: to build their own database. This is fair. The postcode database is […]

Rewired State: JobcentreProPlus

On Saturday I was at RewiredState. A bunch of geeks got together to build things. We wanted to show government how it’s done! At the end of the day, we each got two minutes to present what we’d done to each other, and an assemblage of government types. People did some really cool stuff, from […]

The UKGovWeb Teacamp

On Thursday, we ran this month’s UKGovWeb Teacamp — a strangely named event that brings together civil servants and contractors working in e-comms and digital engagement with each other, and anyone else who’s interested and wants to come along to talk about government and the web. This month, Jenny came along to talk to people […]

ConsultationXML Update

Mark Little kindly reported some bugs in the ConsultationXML distribution. The INSTALL file was missing a couple of salient details: ConsultationXML requires the PHP HTMLTidy extension The pdf directory in ConsultationXML’s root directory needs to be writeable. We had also unwittingly left some Javascript in the codebase, which was responsible for displaying the welcome page […]

ConsultationXML is now Open Source

We’re terribly, fantastically pleased to announce that after a bit of wrangling, Steph Gray and I are able to release ConsultationXML as open source software under the GNU Affero license. The recent report on open source software in Government hinted that departments ought to try to release source code for the software they commission, and […]

The Twitter blackout and User Interfaces

Really good user interfaces are effortless. You understand what’s happening and what to do without thinking about it all. This means that the best, most essential bits of good user interfaces are often, by definition, the things you don’t notice at all. This has really been brought home to me over the last couple of […]

Comment on the Power of Information Taskforce’s report

The Power of Information Taskforce have been figuring out how to liberate public sector information, how to facilitate better use of the modern, social web in government, and how to support the efforts of those outside government who are doing worthy things. All in all, they’re a great bunch of people, doing great work. They’ve […]