A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Thursday, August 10, 2006

UK Government sites need some more thought 

The UK government decided recently that they would start to let the population know the current level of terrorist threat (that was nice of them). They obviously don't think how best to do it, though.

A good idea would have been to create an RSS feed that only contains this information in it. Another would have been to create a site specifically to display the threat level and tell us what we should do.

What do we get instead? The MI5 and UK Government home pages (shown below, a bit small, I know) buried the information among other nuggets such as news about the online version of the Doomsday book (sounds spookily co-incidental) and career opportunities at MI5.

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I recall that when the BBC redesigned their site they specifically added functionality that allows the homepage to be taken over by one big story rather than several smaller ones.

Perhaps someone in Whitehall should be so bold.
On a similar vein to this, after the July 7th bombings last year, I signed up to what sounds like quite a handy service: a free text message alert from the Met Police giving info of any "incidents" occurring in London, in real time.

Unfortunately, each time I get one of these messages it simply says that "an update" has been made to the Police website, and points me there to read the latest info. Of course, I could then pull it up via WAP, but doesn't that kind-of defeat the object?
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