As many of you may already know for the last year or so we’ve been working with Local Authorities to publish the data they stored in the Family Information Directory via the many plings publishing channels. To overcome difficulties with the formats of the data as well as variations in it’s quality and quantity we built a Data Processing application which we affectionately called Pling-o-matic.
What is Pling-o-matic?
Amongst other things the magnificent Pling-o-matic parses freetext looking for instances of days, dates and times, when a day or date and time is found pling-o-matic automatically creates the start time and end time of an event and publishes it at plings.net. There’s stacks of more specific information on the plings wiki and the Pling-o-matic website.
Quality or Quantity when it comes to data?
When we launched we piloted parsing and publishing all the activities listed under the “Leisure and Recreation” category terms. This provided us with a huge amount of data, at the height we were parsing in excess of 35,000 records daily. Although the quantity and quality of the records was great we were concerned that some data didn’t fit into the scope of Plings; Positive Activities for 13-19 year olds.
Our solution was to ask local authorities to tag the records they’d like processed by the pling-o-matic and published at plings with the vocabulary term “Positive Activities”. Although the quantity dropped we ended up with a smaller data set of high quality data which was perfectly in our scope.
Family Information Directory (FIDy) hit by budget cuts
Our concern was raised in February when the announcement came that the Family Information Directory was to fall victim to the central government deficit reduction cuts and was to be discontinued. The department saw merit in the open sourcing of the aggregator code and thankfully the consortium of Vantaggio, Knowledge Integration and Kent Family Information Service came to the rescue providing the Open Family Services Directory.
Welcome to the Open Family Services Directory
The OFS aggregator was an exact replica of the FIDy aggregator so we simply changed a couple of base URLs and starting parsing data immediately. We were amazed at the quality and quantity of data held in the aggregator at such an early stage. We’re really excited about the future of the directory and we encourage local authorities and channel partners to get involved.