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Trade Galaxy – the Trek so far

Hello and welcome to the last update of 2017! We’ve been busy over the last few months pulling together what we need to begin work on the alpha: our trade dataset family. There’s been a lot of work getting everything to line up and there is more to do before we can get a full head of steam in 2018.


Trade Consortium

In October we invited a group of trade experts from across the GSS to a session hosted by Defra, and we were staggered by the take-up. Over 20 delegates attended from across the UK to listen to our presentation and provide us with their insight into what this trade family could be.

We worked on the Value Proposition Canvas using the Jobs to be Done technique, which Sam blogged about this a few weeks ago, to elicit and document user needs. These provided us with a great insight into just what it takes for users to find, understand and reuse this type of data.

Our exercise to build and document our Trade Galaxy didn’t quite go to plan. As the landscape is so complex, we weren’t able to come away with a completely connected picture. The conversation was incredibly helpful in trying to understand it, and we came away with a first draft which our experts are looking at and shaping into a comprehensive viewpoint.

Most importantly, we came away with the sense that this was the right thing to do. The consortium members saw value in us working together and there was a strong sense of commitment to working together to create a proof of concept.

In December we had a follow-up session. There was another great turnout from the departments and a great deal of enthusiasm too. We did more great work to establish what the trade galaxy looks like, and to shape who from the consortium will form a smaller subject expert group as the advisory panel to help drive this work forward. We look forward to setting up the first advisory panel in the new year.

Going back slightly, November saw us presenting our work and findings so far, alongside the purpose and the benefits, to the GSS conference in Sheffield. We had some great feedback from some senior leaders and John Pullinger even told us he was looking forward to listening to the presentation. We hope we didn’t disappoint the Big Boss!


Migration Consortium

During December we also ran another workshop introducing a dataset family concept to a group of Migration experts. Whilst the focus of the alpha is delivering the Trade dataset family, having the early work for another dataset family will enable us to prove the viability of the alpha and its interoperability.

Just as we did in the Trade Consortium session we ran through the purpose of the project and the benefits we can achieve working across the departments. We carried out the same exercises for the Jobs to Be Done and the value proposition canvas, and also teased out a great conceptual framework of the migration galaxy. We also asked the group for the knotty problems they feel we will need to overcome during the development of this dataset family, so we can plan to mitigate these where possible.

The team have worked hard to get all of the information that was provided to us written up and out for review before Christmas – Merry Christmas Consortiums!



We’ve been waiting for the GDS spend control decision to come through before being able to get the work cracking, and we’re pleased to say this came through last week. It was truly the best possible Christmas present for the team, and means we can hit the ground running with more of the technical work in January.

So we’ll be able to start work with our partners Swirrl, who are building our technical solution, and being able to recruit new roles for the team, including the all-important data architect! We are looking to set up consortium sessions with Health and Crime, and at the GSS conference we were also approached by colleagues in Housing and Health and Safety eager to be involved as well – so it’s definitely snowballing!

I have to say I feel honoured and excited about being part of this work. This could be the start of a revolution in how we disseminate GSS data. To boldly go where no data has gone before….

If you have any questions, contact us.