BIG developments for Northern Ireland!
The GRO in Belfast is to create what appears to be an online ScotlandsPeople type website by January 2014. The following is from the tender document published on the United Kingdom Tenders website on June 8th 2012:
The General Register Office Northern Ireland (the Client), as part of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), is a multi-disciplined service with a complex and diverse range of operational and business needs. It consists of a Central Headquarters based at Oxford House, Belfast and 26 District Offices (DRO) located throughout Northern Ireland. The work of GRONI is mainly statutory or demand led. In addition to service provision to the public, GRONI provides a range of information-based services to a number of other public sector bodies.
The Client is intending to award a contract for the development, hosting, management and support of a website to a Contractor who must:
- Provide an online genealogical search facility of historical registration index data and images which may be viewed by customers upon payment of the appropriate fee using a PCI DSS v2.0 payment facility,
- Provide an online facility for customers to apply and pay for certified copies of civil registration records,
- Provide an internal search facility (which cannot be linked to the external website) hosting both historical and recent registration index data and images which may be viewed by customers upon payment of the appropriate,
- Ensure that secure mechanisms are in place to allow customers to set up accounts and make payment for their transactions on the website and PSR application. The payment mechanism must be compliant with the current and any future versions of the PCI DSS standard v2.0 for processing payment cards,
- Ensure that the servers related to the internal search facility are hosted, managed and supported within the server room at GRONI premises, located at Oxford House, Belfast. The servers hosting the historical records must be stored in an external ISO27001 compliant data centre, and
- Migrate approximately 10 million records and 8 million images and facilitate the on-going migration of new or updated registrations and those historical records that pass the threshold for online access.
- The contract for development, hosting, management and support of the Authority’s website is expected to be for an initial 5 years with the potential for one 2 year extension and a subsequent one year extension. The system must go-live no later than 1.1.2014.
COMMENT: This has been on the cards for a very long time, with the GRONI having visited Edinburgh in 2006 or 2007 to see the set up there, and I've heard several references to it over the last year or so. What is not clear as yet is whether this will only cover records for the north following Partition, created under the authority of the GRO in Belfast, or also records for the north prior to Partition, which were created under the authority of the GRO in Dublin. It is also unclear how the site will be priced, bearing in mind that the GRO in Belfast charges the highest rates for certificates in the UK at £14 plus p&p per record. At the facility in Belfast it charges £3 per record look up, which would be a marked improvement, though bear in mind that in Scotland an online record costs about £1.30 in total to search and view - albeit with the site having closure periods in operation.
If at the very least a comprehensive index for Northern Irish records past 1922 makes its way online, research into the country's family history will be revolutionised for those not able to get to Belfast easily.
Either way, it looks like we have a Norn Irons People on its way!
Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service www.ScotlandsGreatestStory.co.uk
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... www.thehistorypress.co.uk/products/The-Mount-Stewart-Murder.aspx (from June 12th 2012)