We are pleased to announce that we have completed the discovery phase of the OpenCommunity data standards project. Please download the document, read, and let us know what you think!


Every local authority, health organisation, police force and voluntary sector organisation maintain some form of directory of locally available services, with massive duplication of effort. This discovery project explores the case for standardising how service data is captured, communicated and quality assured.


Good data standards for community services already exist. However, the ecosystem and the infrastructure required for their adoption does not. There is momentum to change this. There is evidence of demand from local authorities and a supportive environment for standards adoption from central government.

However, data standards alone will not address the underlying challenges of maintaining high-quality data about the community services landscape. It needs:

  • a clear group of owners across central and local government
  • coordinated investment and stewardship
  • collaborative approaches to procurement of service directories and data products
  • changes in culture and ways of working
  • new products and improvements to current ones

This report outlines the vision for a coordinated ecosystem approach to drive the implementation of existing standards.

“ … the longer you’ve been doing the job, the more you get a little database going in your mind of who you need to signpost to. The other thing I do in my role is I’ve got a bank of hyperlinks – a directory, basically. ”

Carers charity

Key findings

This early research has, for the first time, attempted to quantify the value of introducing a common approach to community service data across the public sector:

  • £7m adult social care savings nationally per year
  • estimated national direct cost savings of up to £11.69m per year
  • savings of up to £73,096 per year from direct costs across a typical upper-tier geographic area
  • 45% of local authorities see a community data standard as extremely useful to their work


OpenCommunity is the name of the project to bring digital thinking to the challenging problem of directory-based information. It was established by Adur & Worthing Councils, Devon County Council and Buckinghamshire County Council, who commissioned this discovery work from Snook and UrbanTide. It was funded by the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s Local Digital Fund.

We have received fantastic co-operation and insight from many people, locally and nationally, and we wish to record our thanks to everyone that has participated or been in touch so far.

Next steps

We are actively planning the next phase; we are clear that this research supports the case for introducing data standards, and we intend to take forward the project to an alpha phase, where we can prototype a joined-up approach to community-based information and provision.

  • If you would like to be involved or would like to be kept notified of developments, or would like to provide feedback on the discovery phase, please add your details via the form below
  • You can also leave a comment against this post at the foot of this page if you prefer
  • You can email us direct via Tom Dixon