Next steps for Scotland’s Official Statistics Open Data platform
Blog by Victoria Avila and Martin Macfie, Data Division, Digital Directorate
In the Open Data team within Scottish Government, part of our role is to manage the publication of open datasets on statistics.gov.scot. This is the open data publishing platform for Official Statistics in Scotland.
The platform contains around 300 datasets and reference datasets published Scottish Government and a range of partner organisations. Many of the datasets are well-described and published at the highest level of openness. We launched the site in 2016. Since then, we have continued to improve the site and increase the number of relevant datasets which it holds. As the site has been live for a number of years, we wanted to review it.
Last year we worked with a company called User Vision to carry out user research on the site. The main objectives were to determine what tasks users came to complete on the site, and whether they were successful in doing so. This research indicated that people have not always been able to complete the tasks they intended to do on the site.
As a result of this research, we have committed to review the front end of the site as part of the data commitment within Scotland’s Open Government Action Plan, 2021-25, which was recently launched.
We have now launched a new home page for statistics.gov.scot, which is more simplified than before. We used the findings from the user research to identify the problems. We made improvements after consulting with users and designers. We are seeking to follow the Digital Scotland Service Standard in our improvements.
This improvement is the first of a series of longer term activities to develop the site. We intend to work in an iterative, “agile” manner to achieve further improvements. We recognise that some of these changes are likely to be substantial. Future improvements to the site which we are now considering over the coming years include:
- Reviewing the structure of the site and potentially simplifying it
- Making it easier to access, use and re-use data
- Making the language more accessible
- Including notes on data availability at different geographies and signposting users to more relevant sources if applicable
- Promoting the importance and role of the good quality metadata which is held within the site
- Improve the search tool on the site, and consider integrating research from the CivTech challenge on Using Technology to Find Public Sector data.
We’d like to thank User Vision for running the user research. We would also like to thank our open data contractors Swirrl who manage the platform upon which statistics.gov.scot runs for their ongoing support, as well as to the statistics and data providers who publish on our site.