Public Services > Central Government

GOV.UK Notify braces for local government adoption during 2017

Neil Merrett Published 02 March 2017

Platform to provide the public with updates on service applications via e-mail, SMS or post will now be available to all Whitehall departments; work underway to open up to councils later this year


The Government Digital Service (GDS) hopes to begin offering its GOV.UK Notify platform to local government organisations from late 2017 after announcing it has now extended the technology’s use to all Whitehall departments.

Devised under GDS’ Government as a Platform (GaaP) strategy to develop common tools and functions that can be adopted across the public sector, Notify is intended to provide updates over the status of student loan, passport and voter registration applications without requiring a phone call.

After launching for select testing in private beta last May, GDS announced that it would now be allowing all government departments to adopt Notify into their services.  However, it said that a lot of work remained in order to meet requests from local government to make use of the platform to curb the need to develop similar technology in-house.

GDS figures show that 3.75m messages have now been sent through Notify, mostly via text message, with 32 services having supported the technology so far.

After invite-only testing of the platform to try and ensure it is as “self service” as possible, particularly in terms of the simplicity of integration with department services, GDS said in a blog post that it was now confident to expand the technology to the rest of central government.

“Being able to just ‘have a play’ with Notify, to create an account, to start sending test messages and to learn what the service could do (all without needing a meeting or a phone call) is an important aspect of self-service,” said the post.  “Self-service is also important so we can rapidly scale to support a large number of users, without spending all our time helping teams learn to use our service.”

While Notify is also intended to curb the need for organisations to post letters to people, the service was being modified to support sending traditional mail in the case of user preference, or a regulatory or security need to do so.

“We hope to send our first real letters by April 2017, before offering this to all service teams by July 2017,” said GDS.

“Service teams with Notify accounts won’t need to do anything to gain access to the letters functionality.”

GOV.UK notify was mentioned within the government’s Digital Strategy, published this week, as part of commitments to reform public service delivery in order to curb reliance on maintaining contact centres to communicate with the public.

The strategy also noted work on the ‘live’ GOV.UK Verify ID assurance platform and the under development GOV.UK Pay function as a reflection of the GaaP strategy.  No specific details were given on the development of any further platforms.

“We will build on the Government as a Platform concept, ensuring we make greater reuse of platforms and components across government. We will also continue to move towards common technology, ensuring that where it is right we are consuming commodity hardware or cloud-based software instead of building something that is needlessly government specific,” said the strategy.

“Common components and platforms will cover both citizen-facing services and internal public sector technology.”

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