Natalia Merzlyakova - Fotolia Notify ready for use across government digital services

The notification platform is now ready to be used by all central government services needing electronic progress updates for users

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has made its Notify platform available across government services after running a “public beta” of the status updates system.

The service can send notifications and reminders to users – either through text messages or emails – to inform them about the status of transactions or applications, potentially avoiding the need to telephone call centres to check for updates.

GDS has run a public beta version of the service since last year, which has been available to some government services on an “invitation only basis”.

This included services for people applying online for UK passports or for lasting power of attorney.

In a blog post, Pete Herlihy, lead project manager for Notify, said the beta version had served to “learn how to make it easy for teams to start sending notifications to users”.

“A large element of this centered around making Notify as ‘self-service’ as possible,” he said.

“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. It is also important in order to rapidly scale and support a large number of users, without spending all our time helping teams learn to use our service.”

Notify is part of GDS’s government as a platform (GaaP) strategy to build common application components that can be reused across Whitehall.

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GaaP is one of the cornerstones of GDS’s £450m budget to develop digital services. According to the Cabinet Office, Notify will save money because email is free and text messages can be sent for less than 2p, while phoning a government call centre can cost up to £12, and letters require stamps.

Herlihy said that if people still want to send letters or there is a “legal, security or regulatory need to send letters”, services will be able to do that through Notify as well.

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

GDS is also doing some work to make the Notify platform available to local authorities as it has received “a lot of requests from local government wanting to use Notify”.

“We expect to start offering Notify to local government by late 2017, once we’ve sorted out the pricing model,” he said.

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