Three or four weeks ago, @adrianshort tipped me off about a campaign he was trying to put together to encourage local councils to start publishing autodiscoverable web pages from their homepages. Various overcommitments of my own meant I couldn’t contribute anything to this initiative, but it’s great to see it up and running now at Mash the State:
So how does my local council do?
Boo – no autodiscoverable feeds on their homepage…. (I wonder whether it might it be an idea to have a link to the council page that is being checked for autodiscoverable links, so that people can see which page it actually is and scout around it for non-autodiscoverable feeds?)
Although the campaign is targeted at encouraging councils to publish RSS news feeds, there’s a range of other feeds that they could usefully publish too, potentially without too much effort.
For example, councils can make use of the Planning Alerts service that scrape planning info from local council websites (presumably it would make get the data via feeds if the data were made available that way? [Update: the link is there, I just hadn’t noticed it – the name of the council in the body text is a link to the assumed council home page.]):
These feeds include geo-data too, which means you can plot the feed on a map:
(I started exploring an even richer planning map for the IW Council, who provide (albeit in a hard to find way) audio recordings of council planing meetings. You can find the proof of concept here: Barriers to Open Availability of Information? IW Planning Committee Audio Recordings.)
Roadworks feeds might be another useful service? Elgin (the electronic local government information network) is one source of this information, although their results listings aren’t available as RSS, and in constructing the URLs for the search results, you need to know the Local Authority Area number :-( (Is there a straightforward list of these available anywhere?)
As well as the opening up of the Mash the State Campaign, I also spotted this week that the UK Parliament website was now providing RSS feeds detailing the progress of every bill currently going through Parliament:
Haing the RSS feed means it’s trivial to create a timeline viewof a Bill’s progress using a service such as Dipity. So for example, here’s a timeline depicting the progress of the Coroners and Justice Bill:
(I’m not sure if there’s an official way of tracking amendments to already enacted Acts? If not, here’s a workaround I put together some time ago – Tracking UK Parliamentary Act Amendments – although I don’t know whether it’s still working?)
PS this looks like an interesting related collection of links: Mashups in government; and this post – Sign up, sign up for Open Source – describes some innovative looking local council projects (I like the idea of a planning application tracker, cf. the government Bill tracker, maybe?)
PPS Although the percentage of councils that currently have autodiscoverable feeds on their homepage is quite low, it’s still a better uptake than for HEIs: Back from Behind Enemy Lines, Without Being Autodiscovered(?!) and Autodiscoverable RSS Feeds From HEI Library Websites. See also 404 “Page Not Found” Error pages and Autodiscoverable Feeds for UK Government Departments.