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Selecting standards for describing languages and countries

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Standards Hub

The Open Standards Board is a group of experts drawn from government and not-for-profit organisations as well as volunteers from academia and industry. They consider proposals about which open standards government should use.

Language tags and country codes

The board met for the fifth time on 27 April 2015. They looked at proposals for language tags and country codes. The Board recommended that ISO 639-1:2002 should be selected for the description of language tags and ISO 3166-1:2013 should be used for country codes.

These standards have now been selected for use across government. They will help users to do things like finding information about a country or finding content that’s written in the language that they speak. The codes in both standards are widely available and have already been used by GOV.UK.

Additional discussions

An update on public emergency alert messaging was shared. This will help to provide members of the public with information via as many different communications channels as possible if they are nearby when an emergency happens. The team leading on this work is looking into putting together a UK version of an OASIS specification called the Common Alerting Protocol.

The Board also heard more about a suggested challenge on understanding government documents. With a little more work to describe the user need more concisely, they welcomed this going through the selection process to look for open standards relating to metadata for managing government records.

The next meeting

The next Open Standards Board meeting is confirmed for October, where they will discuss:

  • public emergency alert messaging
  • understanding government documents
  • exchange of property/place information
  • exchange of location information

Please visit the Standards Hub to give us your feedback and suggestions.

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  1. Comment by Peter Parslow posted on

    How does the recommendation of ISO 639-1 fits with the statutory obligation to use ISO 693-2 when describing environmental & geographic information (ref: The INSPIRE regulations 2009 -, particularly the part implementing Commission Regulation 1205/2008)?