Public Services > Central Government

Verify local government pilots move to alpha

Neil Merrett Published 02 March 2017

GDS announces plans to move forward with two pilot projects to link ID assurance platform to support applications for council travel passes and residential parking permits


The Government Digital Service (GDS) is moving forward with efforts to roll out its GOV.UK Verify ID assurance platform to local authorities by moving its first two pilot projects for the technology’s use by councils into alpha.

In a post by Michael Clark and Verify local authority lead Linda O'Halloran, it was today announced that pilot projects designed to offer secure access to online applications for travel passes and residential parking permits using the platform have moved into their alpha phases.

Following the completion of discovery phase for the two pilots late last month, GDS said it will continue to bring together findings throughout the alpha stage to develop tools that can then be adopted by local authorities to handle specific ID needs.

“We’ve drawn on the expertise of over 15 councils to create our discovery tools. These tools include components that can be used to build effective digital services. Other local councils looking to redesign their services can also use them,” said the GDS post. “We hope to continue improving and iterating our tools through the pilots’ alpha and beta phases.”

In moving to alpha for both services, GDS said it would be focused on improving the existing common prototypes through user tests, with the councils involved required to build testing and development environments to conduct such work.

A private beta is expected to start once these prototypes are both able to meet service standards, and are proven to be configured effectively and securely with council services by their in-house technology teams.

At present, GDS has said it has worked with 17 councils and conducted 150 interviews as part of user research for using GOV.UK Verify at local council level.  According to the blog, templates have also been developed for councils to support work to map out user journeys and technical components of their existing services.

The government has committed to expanding use of its GOV.UK Verify platform to 25 million people - a 2,400% rise - over the next three years, with healthcare and local government adoption among possible areas being considered to support this aim.

However, as Whitehall commits to build take up of its in-house ID assurance platform, questions remain how this may be achieved and the exact potential to extend use in the public sector, such as local council use.

Based on the government’s own performance figures for the platform, the service completion rate, defined as the proportion of visits to GOV.UK Verify that result in successful user sign-in to a service upon creating or re-using an account has ranged between 53% and 33% since the New Year.

The government has committed to improving successful outcomes since the service went live last May.

Just last month, Essex County Council told Government Computing it was considering using Verify with a view to adoption across its services.

Councillor Stephen Canning, the Cabinet Member for Digital Innovation, IT and Customer Services has expressed strong interest in the potential of the platform for its operations.

“I don’t think there is a service we have where it wouldn’t be useful. If we’re already providing something or they are paying us council tax, we’ve already got that sort of file and we’ve already got their proof of identity, requirements that they’ve had to give us for other different applications they’ve made, if they can then verify their identity in a reliable way, there’s no reason for us to ask them a whole range of other questions that we do for pretty much every service,” he said. “So I can see it helping us to cut out that sort of triage or first questioning stage that we do on pretty much every service provision.”

Related articles:

Stakeholders consider UK Digital Strategy’s public service implications

Essex ready to consider adopting Verify identity assurance platform

GOV.UK Verify, NHS numbers and the 25 million user challenge

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