Defra’s Environment data registry for connective reference data

As a personal take on Defra’s Environment data registry for connective reference data (code lists) project. I thought I’d note down a few points to what we are doing at and why.


Defra (and the Defra Network) has commitments in a number of areas that rely upon the provision of what the National Information Infrastructure (NII) refers to as connective-reference data. These are either implied or explicit. For example this includes:

  • the INSPIRE directive see
  • Linked data service provision see examples
  • the Defra open data strategy see
  • the UK Open Data Action Plan see
  • Environmental Directive Reporting such as to
  • the UK Government ICT Strategy ref
  • the Digital Service Standard ref
  • the Defra Knowledge Strategy [ref to follow]
  • the UK Public Sector Standards Hub (and mandatory standards) see
  • etc

but more importantly than all these things. We need to share and reuse the bits of data that enable us to join together data across systems and across organisations. We need to do this to make our data more usable, to reduce duplication of effort and to increase the ability for data to work together.

The Project

The project output will be (an an early shakedown is) available at: It develops on from the code developed within the UKGovLD registry PoC Project at:  The project helps to implement codes through persistent identifiers and follows the guidance in:  draft URI patterns and the draft URI patterns for Location Data documents.


Some of the things that this could do for us includes:

  1. Improving our Open Data and Transparency commitments by providing access in a searchable and meaningful way to the vocabularies, code lists and associated metadata that we use
  2. Adding meaning and context to the other data we are providing
  3. Facilitating communication and data sharing between Defra Network bodies, between public sector bodies and between government and our partners
  4. Providing a consistent set of data across time, between databases, between organisations/consumers and between processes
  5. Internal ownership of the reference data that we should own and maintain
  6. Reduction and removal of the lock-in created by legacy systems
  7. Reduction of the silos within and between legacy systems
  8. Creation of relationship between suppliers and consumers that could build trust
  9. Improving data quality and data management in part through peer pressure and through the openness of the data
  10. Precise and referenceable definitions throughout systems and data
  11. Shared code lists across the whole of Defra rather than multiple ones for one domain across each organisation all slightly different
  12. Enable model driven data testing, data cubes and data centres
  13. Integration with INSPIRE and EEA activities
  14. URI management
  15. Supporting or an app ecosystem
  16. and more [I think]

What next

The project should provide a beta release in very early 2014.  We will start providing codes and train our data and IT teams.

As we look to meet the INSPIRE Directive, we will be looking amongst other things to provide the UK registry service for extending any INSPIRE code lists at: using the same technology.

Not a great description but some initial thoughts – to build upon

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