DirectScot, a prototype for a Scottish public services portal, was launched today by the Scottish Government. The site, which was developed by Storm ID, is designed to provide people and businesses with a simpler view of all public information and services available to them.
The prototype currently aggregates data from a variety of sources including:
- Scottish Government web site
- Four local Authorities (Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire, East Lothian and Midlothian)
- Direct Gov web site
- Scottish Business Gateway
New content will be added to the site during the two month consultation period and it is envisaged that the site will support all 32 Scottish local authorities as well as a range of other data sources by end of 2012.
Search & Discovery
At the heart of the site is a powerful search engine which supports predictive search across a curated set of popular user-orientated tasks. It also supports ranked fuzzy searches, spell checking and synonyms.
Search is used in various ways throughout Direct Scot beyond providing a set of ranked search results. Storm has developed a set of search services which allow the site to provide journeys through content beyond paging through results. For instance search allows the system to determine similar bits of content via clustering which is used to provide ‘related content’ on leaf nodes; search also allows us to suggest alternative searches to users to push them to areas of rich results.
As many public services and information are local, the site prompts users to set their location in order to receive the best experience. For modern browsers location is automatically detected and the user assigned to the relevant Local Authority. This allows the site to present a customised view of the information and services relevant to the user’s local area.
Responsive design for the mobile age
The site adopts a responsive design approach making use of flexible grids, flexible media and uses media queries to serve up the most appropriate experience to users depending on the device they are using to access the site. This ensures the site not only has support for mobile built in but also future proofs the site against new devices and changes in the digital landscape that are yet to come.
Storm also set up a cloud based hosting solution for the prototype using Amazon EC2 cloud platform which provides suitable level of scalability and security as required for Scotland’s citizens portal. The site also supports an API where third party developers can make requests for content by a range of criteria.
Please have a look at the portal and give us your feedback: www.directscot.org