GDS launches alpha delivery of government notifications platform

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has started analysing status tracking and notifications and is now launching a six to eight-week alpha delivery of a government notifications platform, according to a new blog post by Peter Herlihy. The aim of the platform is to make it easy to keep users informed.

The blog post includes examples of what this notifications platform could potentially offer people and public services in the future; for example, MOT reminders emailed to all vehicle owners.


Huge demand for notifications from government

According to the GDS, there is an overriding user demand across services for notifications from government (for example, a receipt or reminder). At the start of the discovery stage, the team predicted that notifications from services would lower the need for status tracking tools.

For the time being, status tracking tools (or platforms) are no longer being looked into.

Status tracking tools are often just ‘channel shift’ for anxiety. They solve the symptom and not the problem. They do make it more convenient for people to reduce their anxiety, but they still require them to get anxious enough to request an update in the first place. They often exist to meet the business need to reduce phone calls and contacts,” the blog post said.


The new focus

As they enter the alpha delivery of a government notifications platform, the GDS is focussing on making it easy to keep users informed through notifications – for example, “timely updates” by text message, email and post.

For many services, notifications will be fully automated. However, in other situations the “workflows, or back-office systems” do not support this. As a result of this, the GDS will be prototyping an interface, enabling back-office staff to send notifications directly “without any integration to existing systems”.


Future possibilities 

Despite the fact that nothing has yet been confirmed, to offer a “flavour” of who the GDS is working with and what they are exploring, the blog post concludes with a list of public services that could potentially be supported by the notifications tool.

The post said:

And what might we end up with?  Well, for a flavour of who we’re working with and what we’re exploring together (nothing committed at this stage), here’s a taster of what could be possible in the future.”

  •  MOT reminders emailed to all vehicle owners
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance – complaints acknowledged immediately via text message
  • Student Finance – documentary evidence receipts acknowledged by email or text
  • Lasting Power of Attorney – updates automatically dispatched by post
  • Universal Credit (Digital) – updates texted to claimants
  • Voter registration – application receipts sent to people via text message
  • Driver’s Medical assessment – updates emailed to drivers
  • Land Registry – updates via email and text message for property conveyancers

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