York Open Service Directory Explained

York Open Service Directory is a database of thousands of groups, activities, services, venues, childcare provision, adult social care services and more! All the information is maintained at a central hub called York Family Information Service. The information is then available to use freely by partners on their own websites, apps, events... in any way they want!

The idea is a simple one. An up to date and comprehensive listing of "what is available in York" that can be reused flexibly across lots of different platforms without cost.

A piece of content or data is open if anyone is free to use, reuse, and redistribute it — subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and/or share-alike." - Open definition

How did we get here?

"We need a directory..."

There are many different times when you hear the words "We need a directory of…" and "it could be available online through a one stop shop website". This as a model doesn’t work. There are too many overlapping requirements for a single point of delivery to be truly successful for the diverse range of audiences for the information. What is needed is an Open Data approach to how we share information before it gets to the point of delivery.

Where are we now?

For every directory solution we currently have there is more than likely a database which is supplying service information to a database. For every database and every website we are paying money.

There are also groups of people who are in need of a directory but don’t have the systems to deliver it. These groups may run for a number of years without the benefits of having a directory before finally buying a solution. The solution is again likely to be a closed solution to their particular needs, cost money and be yet another system to maintain.

Where next? - Open Service Directory

A model of Open Service Directory would mean that service information is available to be shared in an agreed structure or schema. This means this data can be easily collated and aggregated before reaching the point of delivery. To achieve this we need to look at one of two things when we are looking at our directory solutions:

  • Can we hold our service information in a database that already meets our Open Service Directory standards.
  • If we are procuring a new system that we state the need for it to meet our Open Service Directory standards.

By working together in this way we can build a powerful partnership based resource that will reduce duplication, reduce costs and open our data to communities and others to make use of information in creative and collaborative ways. 

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...

Teams and services across York and North Yorkshire are already working on this model and others are looking to join. So far those on board include

To find out more contact York Family Information Service.

We would like to thank...

We would like to thank the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) for funding which allowed this to happen. Funding was provided via the Open Data Breakthrough Fund,  which aims to remove short-term barriers and enable open data release, enhancing the ability to access and make use of the open data. You can read an evaluation from July 2014 and the use of the Open Data Breakthrough Fund on this website.