Southwark Digital Directory of Services research

The London Borough of Southwark is working alongside their health and third sector partners on a Discovery project to agree a model for a future Digital Directory of Services.  

The ambition is to both ensure there is reliable and accurate “machine-readable data” for wider digital innovations as well as ensuring that the widest prevention agenda is supported by easy access to accurate information about local support. 

One strand of work has been to explore models and progress on similar initiatives by other Local Authority and Health localities.

Southwark Council and all of the other councils and health partners that were interviewed have agreed to share the information that was captured.  This document therefore plays back the findings from 8 such discussions.  This information does not include any commentary, as this is research into models and progress, rather than an evaluation.  It is also critical to recognise that the level of investment that has been made in each initiative was not disclosed and this is obviously a critical factor in the level of ambition and the progress to date.  

At this stage, Southwark council has not decided on a proposed model.  However, there are some overarching observations that can be drawn from these conversations, including the following

  • It is hard and slow progress - and the real challenges relate to the cultural issues rather than the technology
  • There are challenges and successes that relate sometimes to “data” and sometimes to culture and how that data is used by whom and for what purpose
  • It is ensuring the accuracy and ongoing maintenance of the information that remains the key challenge, particularly where it includes third sector offers which are prone to change frequently
  • Most people advocate an ambition for extending the work into being able to measure what is happening, to capture feedback on quality of services and address things like access to CQC, OfSTED and other quality marks including safeguarding 

The councils who contributed are Hull City Council, Lambeth, Buckinghamshire, Kingston, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Buckinghamshire, Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System. 

To read the full research report click on this link

Place-based model for collecting, assuring and publishing open referral service information