The data’s big, the data’s free

Today the Digital Services team at Companies House passes a major milestone. We officially go live with the “free data” version of our new search service. Just another project milestone? Actually, no. It’s a big deal: 170m company records are now available free of charge to the public, via both a whizzy web service and a RESTful API. (And while we’re at it, we’ve unified the search and filing services).

CHS Free DataWe had 300m data accesses last year. When other parts of our data went free, we saw a 700% increase in access. Imagine what the stats are going to look like now! Thank goodness we’ve got AWS on board to cope with peaks in demand. We’ve been tweaking the service during the private beta, and been getting some truly great user feedback.

What really interests me now is the massive opportunity for these free corporate data to improve the efficiency of the UK economy.  Why have your staff input company names, addresses, directors as free text into your sales or purchase ledger? Just pull the clean, structured data direct from our API, avoiding all those dirty, duplicated data. Link to the CH record so you instantly know about changes of name and address. Have a single verified instance of a customer/supplier rather than whatever free text happens to get entered. Why not get ahead of the game by checking daily on the trading status of companies on your debtors ledger? Just automatically pull their trading status and latest accounts from CH.  About to employ a builder or plumber? Check out their corporate credentials using our web service.  That’s all free of charge, courtesy of Companies House.


I’d love to take credit for the new service, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t. There’s a great in-house team at CH that have pulled together to deliver this, more than ever in recent months. Special mentions to Chris Smith, Andrew Maddaford, Ian Kent, Rachel Cooper, Nic Barnes, and of course Robbie McNeil as Product Owner.

The World Wide Web has massively enhanced the speed and frequency of communications, and the transparency of and access to data. Consumers led the charge, companies followed slowly, and governments even more slowly. But I think the UK government’s now setting the agenda – leading the charge for free, accessible data, for the benefit of citizens and companies alike. Mike Bracken‘s shouting about what we’re doing, my CEO’s happy, and I’m proud that Companies House is right at the front of the charge to government as a platform.

Stay tuned for what comes next (more exciting news soon).

Probably the best infographic in history – Sparks’ Histomap

In 1931, John D Sparks produced a truly inspirational infographic – a huge chart showing the rise and fall of different civilisations over the past 4000 years. I came across it again the other day and was awestruck by how cleverly it contextualises different historical events – not to mention realising how limited my knowledge is.  I sure wish I’d been given a copy when I was wading through Bismarck etc in A-level History back in the ’80s.

JohnDSparks Histomap

Whilst looking for an updated version (i.e. up to the end of the twentieth century), I found this engaging animation of the original histomap    Turns out the updated version by Rand Mcnally is available (at a price) but inevitably there’s more noise and less historical perspective on more recent events – so I will stick with the 1931 original!

Found at, and copyright John D Sparks

Disruption of the online talent sourcing market by social networks

Here’s  a summary of the dissertation I wrote 5-6 months ago for the Strategy and Innovation Masters Level Diploma at Oxford Said.   I’m making it public for a few reasons. Firstly, I was pretty pleased to get a Distinction for it – which means it “demonstrates a total grasp of relevant concepts and frameworks.” Secondly, although events might have moved on somewhat in the past 6 months, I am not aware of anyone having dealt with the issues raised – and I think they (we?) should.

The PDF is available here: Disruption-online-talent-sourcing-market-social-networks_Public

It’s not the easiest read, nor the most polished text, and I resisted uploading the entire dissertation (this is an extract). But please do download it and take a read if you’re interested.

If you do use any ideas or quotes herein, please do credit me as the source.  Likewise, any comments or questions, feel free to contact me:

Infographic: Innovation in the online recruitment market

Thanks for a great response to the survey.  I have included below an infographic with some of the more quantitative data. I made two £50 charity donations – firstly, to Barnardos and secondly to The Ethiopian Education Foundation – both great choices.

(c) Gareth Lloyd
(c) Gareth Lloyd

Academic survey: Innovation in the online recruitment market

Interested in online recruitment and innovation?

If so, I’d like to ask for your expertise and insight on a subject I am researching at the University of Oxford. This is an academic survey and I will be happy to share the results with you on completion.

The research analyses the changes in online talent sourcing driven by the use of social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and the strategic responses available to agencies and job boards.

The survey will take around 15 minutes to complete. Your responses will be anonymous.   I really appreciate and value your input, and please do let me know if you have any questions.

As it is so close to Christmas, I will be donating £50 to a charity chosen by a survey participant picked at random (by email address) on the closing date of Friday 4 January.