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The goings-on in the Data Search world...27/02/2017

The Data and Search team have made good progress over the past two weeks. In this twelfth set of fortnight notes I will try and encapsulate all those happenings!

Michael continued working with Silver and Anya to define models for procedural data. They did some modelling of public facing interaction points for online petitions which will eventually stitch into a wider model of the whole petition process. The first draft is here.

A team from the Web Science Institute of Southampton University spent the day with us and presented their recommendations after reviewing our conceptual and physical ontologies. We had a great discussion around the membership models and some positive feedback from their work to validate the current ontology with user stories.

We're planning to work with them to review and improve the comments on the data model to make them less specific to UK Parliament and more easily adopted by other legislatures.

New Data Platform

Last week we worked to improve our data coverage for Peers on the new data service. Following a discussion with the website team, we now have a workaround to populate house incumbency information for people in the House of Lords. This means the beta website can now show meaningful information about membership in the Lords.

Chris completed the ontology implementation and source data investigation, Wojciech the orchestration implementation.

Raphael progressed with the hosting infrastructure expenditure reporting work in the dynamic dashboard. This is still work in progress but is taking shape.


Third party suppliers have now formally submitted design documents covering the cloud hosting subscription-level implementation of the new data platform on Azure. Samu has created a first draft design document that complements this with technical details of the implementation and approach to continuous delivery.

Samu and Aidan, along with colleagues from the Infrastructure Programme and suppliers, attended the weekly Architecture Design Group meeting to present these design documents for peer review. It was a successful meeting with some good feedback and no major concerns with the planned implementation were raised.

It was very pleasing to have recognition that the Data and Search team has now become a leading figure within the Digital Service in leveraging Microsoft Azure cloud technologies for implementation of a service and the continual delivery process that wraps around that.

The team continues to work with cyber security and information security teams to further enhance security of the new data platform.


Samu and Robert have worked together and completed the first iteration of the search API and also the documentation for ADG. Robert, Kheira, Usman, Henry and Dia met to discuss the 'presentation of search results'.

Robert also met with Michael, Anya, Ed and Bryn Morgan (from the Commons Library) on outlining the 'Topics Search Questions Tool'.

Corporate Management Information Dashboard

Mat began development on the Enterprise Programme Management Office (EPMO) dashboard, which will pull live data. Security accreditation for the products we are using was achieved and the installation is being scheduled..

Product Roadmap

The Data and Search product roadmap has been updated to include the website roadmap.


Mike identified the problem that was stopping members and their staff from accessing off the Parliamentary estate. He worked with the User Access team to come up with a solution in time for the constituency roadshow . Mike started investigating Azure Operations Manager which will contribute to the management of the new data platform.


Tony Hirst joined the team for a short stint working with people in the Commons Library and exploring some of the problems they face working with data. He's published his notes here. More to follow.


Last Tuesday we hosted our second Parliament, Democracy and Data meetup at Newspeak House. We had speakers from PDS, the Open University, the Commons Library, the Government Digital Service register team, the Bureau of Investigative JournalismSomething New and Transparency International. It was a great night with great talks and some great conversations. Blog post to follow.

Show and tell

Raphael demonstrated his work developing Power BI dashboards based on resource and billing data for the new data and search platform. The work represents a major step forward in being able to monitor resource usage within the new platform over time, providing a better picture of the impact of releases on resource usage and patterns of peak usage. The work naturally feeds into forecasting expenditure over time and should help us in managing the implementation as effectively as possible from both a technical and financial perspective.

Mike took us through what he has been contributing on the support side - this time it was a significant work on fixing Hansard and Intranet search.

Tony Hirst presented a short history of his work hacking Parliamentary data to date. It ranged from data visualisation to an Alexa hack for Parliamentary statements.

Other Interesting Stuff

There was a recruitment fair at Westminster Hall. Julie played a pivotal role in organising this but unfortunately Storm Doris prevented her from attending. Dan, Samu and Jamie were manning our stall. The turnout was great.

We'd appreciate any feedback to @DN78,, or via the comments.

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