So Directgov took up the challenge

Tom Watson MP challenged Directgov on Twitter to:

Tom_watson @direcgov Today for example – wouldn’t it be the day you change the front page to give a host of travel info feeds and up to date advice?

Directgov @tom_watson heard loud and clear

Tom_watson @Directgov Very glad to hear it. I’ve just purchased www.schoolclosures.org.uk Fancy rising to the challenge for tomorrow morning?

Tom_watson @Directgov that should say schoolclosures.org.uk If you did it for tomorrow am, you’d be heroes.

A few hours ago:

http://innovate.direct.gov.uk/2009/02/03/school-closures-%E2%80%93-a-better-way/

Tom_watson @Directgov, I salute you. Utterly brilliant turnaround: http://is.gd/idfX More on school closures and humble pie here: http://bit.ly/39aljD

That’s how it is done. H/T to the ever clever Paul Clarke who was able to swing into action, even though he was also crowdsourcing for snow :)

There are problems with the Beta site for school closures, you need to refresh the page to get a response, and the results depend on the schools themselves or you lot in the know to update the information – so… anyway the point is that it was done.

Lovely.

Update: SHOCKING behaviour on my part, I completely ignored @brianhoadley who led the development of the Directgov innovations site and the development of the app for school closures, I am so so sorry Brian! Being a div, staying at home going slightly mental.

14 responses

  1. Emma, it’s nothing more than a search that sits on top of an outdated list of schools. What’s the point in demonstrating that you can do that, *and* not be able to get it to work?

    They’ve said that it will not be a live site, so, I’m bewildered as to what it will be. If it had say, a live feed coming from schools to form a central resource for teachers and parents, I might be impressed.

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  3. Lame comments from the people above. The issue is not whether this service works well now. Do babies walk having just been born? I think Emma’s point is the call and response, with directgov team’s rapid response time. I expect iteratation. Sure the results maybe lame now and speed sluggish. It’s a very young beta, actually an alpha. Now just iterate on this sucker, get some accurate data piped in and something good should come of it.

  4. James, exactly. It is showing a different way of doing stuff, instead of running through a massive Prince2 project to get something done that can be thrown together then developed together AS an experiment. It is being actively developed as we speak, I understand, with twitter helpers etc etc. Paul is right that it could be better and his suggestions are useful, hopefully Direcgov read his blog, or he has managed to tweet them directly about this (hey Paul?!)

    Re the Tom comment, well, what can I say?! I am not interested in the Politics, nor the beauty or otherwise of the Minister charged with the digital agenda. I am just keen that it is taken seriously, and it seems to be. Happy for the comment to be there, if only to put off all others who might want to make this about Tom’s face rather than what we are all struggling to do. Silly really.

  5. James you are right, it’s not whether it works or not. But what is it supposed to do exactly? What’s the point in building a site for the sake of it – as you’ll note from the like in the comments, I’ve expressed a more detailed opinion on my blog.

    I’m a huge fan of Emma, Tom Watson and others – they’re doing a great job in helping government embrace digital. I’m commenting on the Web site itself too by the way, not Directgov as an organisation.

    Speed has as much to do with it as the functionality working.

  6. Hi Paul,
    Yes, your last comment was definately valid. This is where collaboration could be improved. Perhaps if the beta site has a wiki-like comments tab that the public could read, this could focus the rough lines hewn into fresh wood.

  7. Emma – one of the developers already follows me on Twitter – so he’s clearly switched on right? ;-)

    I like the process. I don’t like this particular Web site as it lacks direction, clarity and even basic objectives. Again, I love what the British Government is doing in digital. I’m commentating on this Web site only (not the people who developed it either :))

  8. Doesn’t work – yet. Lots of errors thrown out when I try it (no schools near me found, loads of errors, newcastle postcode used, only result returned was a manchester school). I am impressed with the idea though, particularly as I was just blogging that there was a need for much the same thing this morning.

    Another potential issue is that it uses content from uk.to which mcafee site advisor indicates is an unsafe site – not likely to make people want to use it.

  9. Anyway, has no-one considered the impracticality of this as a centralised solution? Firstly, you’ve got to ensure every link in your chain (presumably school to local authority to directgov) is updating in real time otherwise it won’t work.

    Secondly, and most critically, the site is going to have no hits most of the time, and then suddenly 25 million people are going to access the site and search in one half-hour period. How likely is it that the site will stay online?

    Whereas if you were looking at local sites (for local people, as the LOG would say), then your ‘spikes’ would be significantly lower.

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