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Gov.uk notifications platform to begin sending texts and emails

Latest project in government-as-a-platform strategy aims to make it easier to keep individuals informed about applications and services

The Government Digital Service (GDS) aims to begin sending notifications to people via Gov.uk Notify by late February or early March this year as it launches the beta version of the platform.

Gov.uk Notify is the latest project in the government-as-a-platform (GaaP) strategy, and the first notifications sent through the platform will be to people getting an MoT or those applying for lasting power of attorney.

The aim is to make it easier for members of the public to be kept informed about the progress of an application without having to phone up a call centre. The government says it receives millions of calls every year, mostly from people wanting to know the progress of an application or service.

The Notify platform enables service teams to send notifications to users in two ways – “a simple integration with their web applications or back-office systems, or they can use our interface to upload batches of messages they have built or extracted from other systems”, the GDS’s Peter Herlihy wrote in a blog post.

To provide flexibility and resilience, several text, email and post providers will be involved, which can be swapped in and out based on price or performance, he said.

Each government service using Gov.uk Notify will be given a standard allowance of texts, emails and letters, which will be paid for by the GDS under central funding.

“We are hopeful that many services won’t need more than the free allowance – in which case, Gov.uk Notify will be completely free,” Herlihy said.

“We are working out the allowances and rates, and we will provide a clear and transparent model for any costs we will need to pass on to service teams.”

By the summer, the GDS hopes to have all services using Gov.uk Notify and although the current focus is on sending out status updates, there are many future possibilities for the platform, Herlihy said.

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“There is a whole world of opportunity where someone could potentially reply to a message to automatically book, change or cancel an appointment, confirm they would like to renew something, provide additional information,” he said. “There is a lot to explore, particularly around the rapidly evolving world of mobile phones.”

The GaaP strategy aims to develop a series of standard digital platforms for common functions used across government, avoiding duplication and unnecessary costs. Under the criteria for its budget of £450m from the government’s spending review, the GDS is expected to save £1.3bn through the GaaP programme alone.

Last year, the GDS went live with the beta version of its payments platform Gov.uk Pay, which has begun taking real payments. ..........................................

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