ON THE RECORD

The Scot­tish Govern­ment’s of­fi­cial ge­neal­ogy web ser­vice has un­der­gone a re­vamp, with costs for ac­cess­ing statu­tory in­dex en­tries scrapped

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Cur­rent news and data re­leases

A brand-new ver­sion of Scot­land­sPeo­ple ( scot­lands peo­ple.gov.uk) has launched on­line. The re­vamped ge­neal­ogy web­site – con­tain­ing mil­lions of digi­tised records held by the Na­tional Records of Scot­land (NRS) – boasts an im­proved search fa­cil­ity and en­hanced user in­ter­face, de­signed to be ac­ces­si­ble on a range of de­vices.

While the price of pur­chas­ing pay-per-view cred­its has in­creased (now £7.50 in­stead of £7 for 30 cred­its), users are no longer charged for ac­cess­ing statu­tory in­dex en­tries to birth, mar­riage, death, Old Par­ish Reg­is­ter (OPR) and Open Cen­sus records. Cru­cially, all cred­its, saved im­ages and searches from the old site are still avail­able to users when they log in.

The web­site has been de­signed by tech firm CACI, which won the con­tract for run­ning the ser­vice af­ter NRS’s ex­ist­ing deal with Find­my­past ended in 2015. De­spite be­ing sched­uled for Mon­day 26 Septem­ber, the launch was de­layed by two days, as de­vel­op­ers wanted to en­sure that the site was com­pletely ready.

“By putting the user at the cen­tre of the de­sign, NRS and CACI have been able to cre­ate an easy-to-use site that de­liv­ers fast and ac­cu­rate search re­sults,” said CACI Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Greg Brad­ford. “We hope users agree that the new site de­liv­ers a richer and more seam­less cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Although the web­site even­tu­ally launched with­out any ma­jor is­sues, a num­ber of cus­tomers took to so­cial me­dia to high­light teething prob­lems. This in­cluded re­ports of record im­ages not load­ing prop­erly, as well as a glitch within the OPR in­dex that meant the ages of cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als were dis­played as ‘131’.

In re­sponse, Scot­land­sPeo­ple shared links to a ‘known is­sues’ page ( scot­land­speo­ple.gov.uk/ tech­ni­cal-help/known-tech­ni­cal-is­sues), where up­dates re­gard­ing main­te­nance work will be posted. Un­like the pre­vi­ous in­car­na­tion of the site, all cus­tomer ser­vice queries will be han­dled in-house by NRS staff.

Early re­views of fh the web­siteb f from with­inh theh pro­fes­sional ge­neal­ogy com­mu­nity were gen­er­ally pos­i­tive. Chris Pa­ton, who runs the pop­u­lar GENES blog ( british­genes.blogspot.co.uk), said that while he ini­tially be­lieved the new site might “sac­ri­fice the PC ex­pe­ri­ence for the tablet ex­pe­ri­ence”, the NRS had found a “happy com­pro­mise”.

How­ever, an­other lead­ing re­searcher, who did not wish to be named, ex­pressed con­cerns about what the new site might mean for the Scot­land­sPeo­ple Cen­tre in Ed­in­burgh and its five ‘satel­lite’ branches across Scot­land, which use a dif­fer­ent com­puter sys­tem.

“I am a bit wor­ried that, in a nut­shell, the web­site does not give the re­mote user what is avail­able in the

We hope users agree that the site de­liv­ers a richer and more seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence

Scot­land­sPeo­ple Cen­tres,” they told Who Do You Think

You Are? Mag­a­zine. “That would not be a con­cern in it­self, as with the old web­site that was the case too.

“How­ever, the plan is for the cur­rent in-house sys­tem to be re­placed by the new web­site. If ma­jor changes and ad­di­tions are not im­ple­mented, then that will not be well ac­cepted by the reg­u­lar Cen­tre users”.

In re­sponse, a Scot­land­sPeo­ple spokesper­son said that it was “still early days”, but they were work­ing to en­sure that users would get the best ser­vice re­gard­less of where they car­ried out their re­search. “No mat­ter where peo­ple are in the world, they can log on and in­ves­ti­gate their fam­ily his­tory,” they told Who Do You Think You Are? Mag­a­zine.

“We are lis­ten­ing to feed­back and will con­tinue to de­velop [the web­site] fur­ther so that in the fu­ture, cus­tomers both at our Scot­land­sPeo­ple Fam­ily His­tory Cen­tres and at home know that they are get­ting the best and most au­thor­i­ta­tive ser­vice pos­si­ble.”

The re­cently re­launched Scot­land­sPeo­ple web­site

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