e-democ / e-gov

InMyArea – has it got wings?

Last year I was feeling very frustrated with the lack of ultra-simple location-based search in the UK (or anywhere that I know of). Loads of organisations have been throwing together very specific but useful search tools that give you bits of data based on your postcode. Using your postcode you can find your nearest schools, Salvation Army centre etc. Many people know their postcode, it's a gloriously simple location search tool.

Local Directgov takes the approach that you visit Directgov and then choose a task such as paying tax. You then identify your local authority using postcode or other details. If they have a link for your authority they then pass you on. But this is very traditional gov and task-centric.

Last year I whipped together It's a very simple search system which uses your postcode to provide a list of services available locally. So if you enter BN1 1AL you'll see the Brighton libraries link because I told the system to show that to all BN postcodes.

But more interestingly there are services like LearnDirect or Neighbourhood Statistics which plug the postcode you supplied into their own searches giving you a shortcut into their data. I took this approach because I realised that getting all these folks to standardise on some XMLish search discovery standard was a tall order for the moment. Ideally I could use RSS type technology to parse their search results right into the InMyArea results page but getting today isn't likely. Hence my simple click-through mechanism for plugging into 3rd party searches.

Some other notes: * I put in a sponsored column because I could. I have no idea if it's a good idea or not, but I thought it was worth playing with. * The database is just populated with a few examples, please do submit some more… * I added the Flickr photo feed for colour based on sterling advice from Tom Steinberg

So…InMyArea is quick and simple. There's no genius code there but I think it provides a quick source of localised data for everyday use. What do you, dear readers, think? Is it an idea worth developing? Should I pitch it to somebody (I've run it past the DirectGov folks already) or do something with it?


UPDATE: Looks like it's not a goer so I've archived the site. Thanks for your input folks.