US and UK Alignment and version control

The page Open Referral US and UK Alignment summarises work that has started to keep the international Open Referral standard and the UK extensions in line.

We intend to keep the Human Services Data Structure (HSDS) backward compatible with what is currently used in the US, UK and elsewhere.

We are reviewing:

  • Parts of the UK standard that are used and not used in live public feeds (see Dashboard)
  • Extra properties added to some feeds that may be of general interest
  • Points raised in this forum
  • Issues raised in GitHub in the UK and the USA

So please make sure you have recorded any points you want to raise.

We’ll also be looking at the Human Services Data Application Programming Interface (HSDA) as adopted in the UK with a view to establishing a core (minimum viable) API standard that might be used everywhere so we can share tools and data internationally.

The process will help us firm up a procedure for future version control.

Do contribute.

The work to ensure the UK and international standards stay aligned, to consider proposed changes and to formalise version control processes has resulted in these three DRAFT documents:

All documents are subject to further consultation and proposed version changes will go through the formal version control process.

You can comment on the proposals here and/or in the documents themselves.

Hi folks – thanks again to Mike for your leadership on these proposals.

We’re now taking two steps forward on this:

First, we’ve shared these proposals with the Open Data Services Cooperative (the technical stewards of our specifications, among quite a few other standards) and they will review and prepare feedback and recommendations.

Second, we’re going to assemble a Workgroup to receive that feedback – along with any other feedback from stakeholders such as yourselves – and iterate upon these proposals until we have an agreed-upon HSDS 2.1.

I’ve sketched out a proposal for assembling this Workgroup here. For the most part, it reflects the process we’ve used in the past, with some minor updates to this current context. Would welcome any questions or suggestions you might have.

I’d also welcome nominations to the Workgroup! (I’ll note right off the bat on that front, however, that I’m personally committed to try to diversify the voices at this table, as in my experience the level of collective insight is higher and the process is more effective when groups are not homogenous.)

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. We’ll field comments on the workgroup proposal for the next week and aim to finalize and form the group in early May.


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Just to reiterate @bloom’s point on Working Group participation. If you have an interest in the data structure and API, anything missing, and how they might be improved in forthcoming upgrades, you may well want to participate.

Hi Mike, I have some views on the data and APIs. I’m quite happy to share them and accept that not all might agree with me.

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Hi Mike & Greg,
As a leading player in using the current OR (UK) standard, I’m looking forward to representing Placecube as the standard matures.

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Great. Thanks @pbrown I think it’s important that supplier issues are brought to the working group. You in particular have implemented extensions that might be considered for the formal standard. Hopefully, over time, more suppliers will take an active role in reviewing proposed new versions.

Hi folks – as anticipated above, we have assembled a workgroup to oversee an upgrade of HSDS that will align ORUK as a formal extension of the core spec.

Thanks in advance to Mike, Paul and Ian who have stepped up to join us in this workgroup as described here.

We will also have support for coordination, facilitation, and documentation from Tim Hill of the Open Data Institute.

The first workgroup meeting will take place on June 6th at 11a Eastern. This first meeting will likely just be reviewing and approving our agreements for how the workgroup will work, reviewing the proposed upgrades (as linked in Mike’s message at the top of this thread) and setting its agenda for the months ahead. This will be a recorded meeting, and will be open to anyone who wants to sit in and listen (non-members who sit in will be welcome to offer comments in the chat). If you’d like to sit in the kickoff meeting, or have any questions about this process, please let me know.

Thanks to all who’ve helped move this forward!