Family Information Directory

"Patrick is one of the finest experts in digital strategy and delivery I have worked with. He was responsible for developing the Family Information Directory, a national online directory which transformed the way childcare information was provided to parents." Ian Pocock, Programme Manager at Transform for Department for Education

Family Information Direct was a suite of innovative services both directly to parents and also supporting organisations delivering those services funded by the Department for Education.

One product, the Family Information Directory aggregated directories of childcare and parent-related services from all 152 local authorities in England and made this available as a directory on Directgov and the Department's own website as well as syndicating the search out to a number of 'channels'.

GMV were asked by innovation consultancy Transform to work on this project. Patrick Towell led GMV’s work to:

  • Design the way parents, carers and practitioners could browse, discover and find what the services and support they needed without necessarily knowing what they wanted and being able to search for it straight away
  • Design the change programme to change the business processes and ways of working in all the local authorities in England to manage their directories differently and upload to the central repository, chairing working groups involving local and central government, technical providers and trade bodies
  • Design and oversee the implementation of the ‘channel strategy’ to include local authorities, social enterprises and non-profits embedding the FIDy search API in their own websites
  • Draft and negotiate all the necessary legal agreements and licences between local authorities, the Department and all its syndication and channel partners
  • Procure and lead the development of the technical and semantic standards used for the interchange of information between all content sources, the Department and channel partners
  • Negotiate transition arrangements with incumbent contractors to the Department and the statutory regulator Ofsted
  • Evaluate options for open sourcing the directory model and oversee its successful transition to being run independently of government

The result: the Directory grew to over 190,000 records and through the innovation of multi-channel distribution saw a peak of 55,000 searches a day.

“Patrick is a highly capable Digital Consultant who is able to unravel and resolve complex business issues with relative ease. He is able to engage and inspire other team members around a common project aim.” Justin Maloney, Programme Manager at Transform for Department for Education


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In partnership with:

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