GDS rolls out messaging platform for UK government digital services

By on 04/03/2017 | Updated on 24/09/2020
The UK government’s new Notify service allows departments to manage communications with service users via text and E-Mail

The UK’s pioneering Government Digital Service (GDS) is launching a public notification platform across central government departments, with plans for further expansion later this year.

The GOV.UK Notify system enables departments to send members of the public alerts, reminders and information on services, speeding up transaction times and saving on administration costs.

According to GDS, Notify has been in an invite-only beta testing stage for nine months, during which time it has sent 3.5 million messages via SMS and email relating to 32 live services.

Among the early adopters of Notify are the Department for Work and Pensions’ Pension Wise service, Passport Office services and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Export Licensing Service.

Writing about the roll-out in a blog post, GDS’s lead product manager for Notify Peter Herlihy said the beta stage was designed to develop a system as “self-service” as possible for departments

“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,” he wrote.

“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.

“From watching how people and teams are using Notify, we’re confident now is the right time to make it available to the rest of central government.”

Herlihy’s post cited the experiences of Aman Singh, a business analyst at Pension Wise and an early user of Notify.

“Before using Notify we were sending huge amounts of printed paper via post to our customers that complete their appointments. The lead-time on these documents would be in the region of 10 days,” Singh is quoted as saying. “Notify has allowed us to save significant amounts of money a year and give access to the information our customers need almost instantly.”

Later this year GDS is expecting to extend Notify to cover the sending of paper letters to service users, where they are still required for regulatory or legal reasons.

After that, Herlihy said, it was hoping to respond to high demand by opening the platform up to local authority users once a suitable pricing model has been established.

About Ben Willis

Ben Willis is a journalist and editor with a varied background reporting on topics including public policy, the environment, renewable energy and international development. His work has appeared in a variety of national newspapers including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times, as well as numerous specialist business, policy and consumer publications.

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