Thursday, July 13, 2006

e None, government Won - Number 2 in an occasional series

After my last post on this (number 1 in a series, obviously), I was pointed at a new service from the yourlondon.gov site (not to be confused with the yourlondon.com site - what is it about government brands and confusing us citizens with different .com and .gov offerings? I thought we'd got over that when we got rid of ukonline.gov.uk). As usual I was ranting in a less than informed way about how hard it is to report an abandoned car (in this case). The comment pointed me to this page which presents a google earth-driven map of London and a little beyond (wow...government mashups with google - bit gimmicky perhaps, the map doesn't really seem to do much). There's a search box for borough or post code. Naturally, because I still don't exist to government, my postcode wasn't recognised. Then I realised that the search/postcode boxes weren't actually connected to reporting an abandoned car and any postcode returns no results (it's so rare to get a search engine these days that has the temerity to say "no results" without offering some alternative ideas). I'm busy staring at this big map wondering how to navigate it and realise i have to read the text and click a link. I do that, enter my legit postcode, and it finds me. That's a first I think. But the map just shifts half an inch to the left but doesn't zoom in. Having put my postcode in, I figure if I just keep zooming in, I'll get to me - but I end up on top of the House of Commons (hardly appropriate given that it's Ken that funds this). So I go back to the postcode search and, with my code freshly entered, the map zooms back out again - despite the text telling me it will "jump straight to a particular location" - I suppose it is particular, just not my particular one. I wonder if this is something about Firefox on Macs? So I try it on IE on my PC and it works just fine, although it doesn't have a zoomed in image of my place (odd that, google earth does). It tells me to click to go to the local council page. Guess what happens when I do that? I get to a page that gives me a list of things I can report (headlined putting residents first)...I click "abandoned vehicle" and I'm right back in the world of nonstopgov, portals, logins, long forms and name and address details. In other words, I'm right back where directgov put me when I first tried. Oddly, despite going to a new site, it didn't open a new window. I tried a couple of other postcodes. The link to Lambeth is flawless - straight to a page asking which road the vehicle is on, the registration etc (although it says that page is step 1 of 3 - I didn't dare try step 2). I then tried a few other codes, from various business cards I had in the drawer. Anything a bit unusual (WC2R 0QS for instance) produced no results. So I make that egov 0, government 2 at least. Shame - so nearly there.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:32 am

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5188922.stm

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  2. Anonymous11:44 pm

    I had posted the comment that referred to yourlondon.gov.uk. I had previously only tried using for Brent, Camden and Sutton so hadnt had the Hammersmith experience - which is dire!! Brent, Camden and Sutton use the same technology as Hammersmith but show how a small bit of design can go a long way in improving the customer experience... Remember services like this are reliant on geodata provided by the individual local authorities so some might might have a well-maintained data source others....

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