Weeknote — 2020-08-25

Digital land sprint notes

This sprint we’ve listed datasets we want to standardise, researched with more local authorities about their local plan making process, and added a cookie banner to our website.

Local plans

Euan and Paul started creating a backlog of policy data that needs to be standardised. We’re starting with data that is required in order to run RIPA. We’ve also been speaking to our planning colleagues to understand what they need.

So far we have a list of over 40 datasets that we plan to work on. Some are going to be simpler to create standards for than others, and we think we can start testing some of them with local authorities soon.

Lorna continued to have research conversations with local authorities about their context, practices, systems and structures around local plans and development policies. We’ve now spoken to 6 local authorities of different types and sizes.

Different members of the team have joined the conversations to take notes, so we’re all starting to get a bit of first-hand insight into what it’s like for officers working on local plans: the way they work and the challenges they face.

Lorna is now pulling together all the findings and planning a session with the team to go over the useful insights from all the interesting things we heard. These insights will feed into the design of the data provision process and the data standard of local plan policies.


Emily and Colm started an accessibility audit of the website to make sure we meet the public sector website accessibility regulations by the 23 September deadline. Part of this has meant adding lots of alt-text to old images on the site.

Jon and Colm implemented cookie consent banners across the site in compliance with GDPR. We’ve based the banner on the GOV.UK and other public sector websites. However, since there is no off-the-shelf code that would suit our website, we have written our own Javascript for this.

Screenshot of the Digital Land website cookie banner

The Digital Land codebase has grown considerably over the last 2 years as we have added more parts to the site and worked on numerous prototypes. This sprint Colm and Jon started looking at how we might rationalise and streamline our codebase. They developed a plan and simplified the Hugo build (Hugo is a static site generator we use for some of digital-land.github.io).


Jess has been helping social housing policy colleagues with insight and input from the PropTech point of view, as they are interested in digitalisation of service delivery and communication provided by social housing landlords for their tenants. She's spoken with PropTech companies as well as L&G Affordable Homes and the Disruptive Innovators Network, with a big thanks to AskPorter and TRAVTUS for making those introductions.

She's also been having broader conversations with a variety of companies including Building Passport, Moovable, and Maybe* with policy colleagues from each area joining to connect directly as well (building safety, home ownership and high streets, respectively).