Logo_OpenReferralUK (2)

The ODI is today (30 March 2022) committing to hosting a data institution for the Open Referral UK data standard. This, the first data institution hosted by the ODI, is intended to free up and clarify information across organisations, meaning that the public may ultimately receive better and more efficient services.

Open Referral UK provides a means of describing public and community services so that information can be shared and combined in a way that everyone understands. The standard was recently endorsed by the UK Government Data Standards Authority. It addresses the problem of data being presented in different formats, as well as being collected multiple times or in inconsistent ways.

Role of the Open Referral UK data institution

The data institution will represent the interests of organisations who invest in the data standard including local authorities, government departments, the NHS, community groups and private organisations. It will help people who are adopting the standard and give them confidence in its longevity and responsiveness to requests for improvements.

'Early adopters have shown the power of the Open Referral UK standard for sharing data and avoiding tie-in to proprietary systems. I now expect the Institution to take the standard to another level, mainstreaming it amongst public organisations and commercial suppliers,' said Mike Thacker, Director of Porism, a software company that works with the Local Government Association, local authorities and the ODI.

Announcing the new arrangements, the ODI founder and Executive Chair, Sir Nigel Shadbolt said:

'Since the inception of the Open Data Institute in 2012, I have been talking about the value, power and necessity of data institutions. But, the ODI has never had a data institution of its own, until now that is.

Over those 10 years, the ODI has laid the groundwork for innovative, practical data projects such as open banking, whilst establishing itself as a voice that both government and business listen to. With the adoption of this data standard, we take that one step further.

Our first data institution will give the ODI first hand knowledge and hands-on experience of the day to day stewardship of data, as well as practical application of how to build data institutions for ourselves. Open Referral members will include representatives from the international Open Referral community and we aim to bring the UK and international Open Referral communities even closer together over time.'

Further reading

Also published today is this report on how the UK government and other policymakers can support ‘bottom-up data institutions’ such as data cooperatives and data unions: How can the UK government and other policymakers support ‘bottom-up data institutions’?

This announcement was made at our event Sharing Data Better: The Rise of Data Institutions (30 March, 14:00–18:00 BST).