Do you collect or publish open data about organisations? Make sure you include open organisation identifiers.

The basics

There are two important parts to an organisation identifier:

(1) The list that the identifier is from

(2) The identifier that an organisation has been assigned

These can be provided in a single string by concatenating together a code that identifies the list, and a normalised version of the identifier. For example:

GB-COH-09506232

(GB-COH is the code for UK Companies House; 09506232 is the company number assigned by companies house to a specific company (Open Data Services Co-op in the example case))

Or, you could put these in separate fields:

Organisation Identifier List Organisation ID
GB-COH 09506232

Org-id.guide can supply you with the code to use to identify the organisation list – and whenever possible, we will provide links to the sites where you can lookup the registered identifier itself.

We also provide tips for each list on how to normalise the identifier. For example, although some websites might present IDs formatted with spaces or special characters (e.g. 123 456 789), an unambiguous identifier should generally remove these. Check the guidance against each list entry.

Better data

We believe in a best efforts approach to joined up organisation information.

The more information you can include in the data you collect and publish, the more re-usable your data will be.

Helpful additional fields to include are:

  • Common organisation name – often datasets include the trading name, or local branch name, of the organisation they are dealing with. Having a distinct field for this is helpful for users.
  • Legally registered organisation name – if you know the official legal name of the organisation, including that helps users quickly understand the organisation that information is about, without having to go to lookup the identifier. However, this is no substitute for an identifier: legal names can still change, whilst identifiers remain persistent.
  • Organisation address(es) – including the address of the unit of the organisation the information is about can help users to better understand the relationships described in your data.

You can see how this better data approach is modelled in the Open Contracting Data Standard, which uses the following organisation identifier block:


{
    "name": "Open Data Services"
    "identifier": {
        "id": "09506232",
        "legalName": "Open Data Services Co-operative Limited",
        "scheme": "GB-LAC",
        "uri": "https://opencorporates.com/companies/gb/09506232"
    },
    "address": {
        "streetAddress": "32 Church Road"
        "locality": "Hove",
        "region": "East Sussex",
        "countryName": "United Kingdom",
        "postalCode": "BN3 2FN",
    },
    "contactPoint": {
        "email": "contact@opendataservices.coop",
        "name": "General contact address",
        "url": "http://www.opendataservices.coop/"
    },
}