Data Registry

Registers are a canonical source of truth. Advances in technology, specifically registers, are transforming how government organisations build and deliver digital services that are simpler, clearer and faster to use by the general public, as well as across government.

As a result, registers are critical to ensuring the integrity of data which ultimately drives public-facing services, as well as inform policy development.

What is a register?

A register:

  1. Is canonical as data in a register is not replicated elsewhere, there is only one register for any one;
  2. Are minimum viable datasets that are linked to each other but do not duplicate data;
  3. Has a raison d’étre (required by legislation);
  4. Can prove data integrity as nothing is ever deleted;
  5. Contain raw (live) data; not derived data or statistical; and
  6. Has a registrar (government department) that is responsible for maintaining that register;
  7. Uses standard names, so are they consistent and linkable to other registers which creates an ecosystem of linked registers.

There are three types of register:

  1. Open registers contain public data, and are open to everyone;
  2. Closed registers require you to do something (pay a fee) before you can access the data or provide a token (such as your driver number when using the view my driving record service);
  3. Private registers contain sensitive information, but may be able to provide answers to simple questions, such as “Is this person registered as a potential organ donor” without revealing further details about the individual.

Examples of UK registers include:

  • Land Registry
  • Visas
  • Student Finance
  • Register to vote
  • PAYE
  • Self –assessment tax returns
  • Your tax account
  • View driving licence
  • Companies house
  • Vehicle management
  • Renew a patent
  • Redundancy payments
  • Food standards hygiene ratings

Benefits of registers:

  • Registers are for everybody in society
  • Registers offer authoritative lists of allowed values for a field
  • Using links rather than text simplifies the data an organisation needs to maintain
  • Every change to a register is recorded with a digital fingerprint, and every fingerprint can be verified independently
  • Better data can lead to better government policy, and help ministers to target investment more effectively
  • Agencies can collaborate to provide better services and improve efficiency
  • Service users experience the type of streamlined approach to service delivery they already enjoy when dealing with modern digital businesses

Case Studies