Registry office locator


Provide a machine readable API for finding a list of the registry offices nearest to a given location, for registration of births, deaths and marriages. Currently, the directgov website provides a "find my nearest" locator for England and Wales, a static page for Northern Ireland, and a set of PDFs for Scotland. Even for England and Wales, the locator is not accessible, only returns the single closest office, and is not machine readable, so not usable from external applications.

This project doesn't include any user interface - instead, it just provides a machine readable (JSON) API, queryable based on a location entered by a user, and returning as many nearby offices as desired.

Ideas for taking this project forward

Currently, the only data present is for the "England and Wales" area, and for the "Northern Ireland" area. No data is present for Scotland, due to the near impossibility of parsing data stored in PDFs into a machine readable form.

A direct user interface on top of this would be good to add, but another project is already doing this!

Estimated costs for taking this project forward

The obvious first step is to get data from scotland - I estimate that 2 days work would be required to parse the PDFs for this (so, around £1000). Alternatively, if the scottish GRO could be persuaded to give this data out in a reusable format, this could be done much faster (say, half a day).

I've noticed that some of the links to registry offices on the English site are out of date, and have had reports of some missing registry offices, so there is clearly a data quality issue to be addressed here too. I can't estimate how difficult it would be to get fully up-to-date data for this.

I'd like to move the location lookup to use the recently freely released postcode data - this would take about half a day to implement.

The only other thing that really needs doing is hosting on a reliable server - the application is very low overhead, so a cheap, shared, virtual host would be quite adequate.

About the data used for this project

A DirectGov staff member obtained an excel dump of the current list of registry offices for england and wales. This is fairly good, but many of the offices have urls which don't work, so the data is probably a bit out of date.

For Northern Ireland, we downloaded the single HTML page containing a list of offices, and scraped the data out of it. There are only 25 offices in this list, and the quality seems to be good.

Scottish data is only available as PDFs, and it was impractical to get the data out of these in structured form, so we have no scottish data at present.

A dump of the current data is in the github repository.

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Rewired State: DotGovLabs

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