Registers are lists maintained by government departments, containing key data used to run public services. The Government Digital Service (GDS) has developed a linking method to connect these registers, allowing for more efficient sharing of data.

This linking method, known as ‘minting identifiers’, involves creating a unique identifier for each item on a register. The identifier is then used to reference the item in other registers, creating a network of interconnected data.

The identifiers are designed to be stable, meaning they won’t change over time. This ensures the integrity of the links between registers. They are also opaque, meaning they don’t contain any information about the item they identify. This prevents confusion or misinterpretation of data.

There are three types of identifiers: primary, secondary, and foreign. Primary identifiers are unique to each register and are used to identify items within that register. Secondary identifiers, used less frequently, allow for additional ways to reference an item. Foreign identifiers are used to link items across different registers.

GDS believes this system will lead to better data management, improved public services, and increased trust in government data. The team is now focusing on building the infrastructure to support this linking method.

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