On 2 March the Government Digital Service (GDS) held a #VerifyLocal Showcase at Code Node in London to share with wider local government colleagues the work going on in the #VerfiyLocal pilots.
GOV.UK Verify is one of the components developed by GDS as part of the Government as a Platform toolkit. The idea is that these components fulfill a particular function which is common across many different online services – in this case, letting users prove their identity securely and conveniently online.
The components GDS are creating to help government keep users updated (Notify), take and process payments (Pay), let users prove their identity (Verify) and get authoritative data sets (Registers) are common sense tools that will make life easier for citizens, civil servants and local authority officers. When they’re explained, it all seems so obvious and frustrating that we haven’t had them in place for years. But this belies the hard work going on behind the scenes to bring these things into reality and make them simple for people to use.
Working with a number of councils across the country, GDS are exploring how Verify and the other components can be incorporated into local authority services, beginning with concessionary travel applications and parking permit applications. In both cases, the council needs to know that the person applying for the thing is who they say they are so their eligibility can be checked. Often at the moment this means posting documents or bringing them into a contact centre to be checked in person, so an online option will be cheaper, quicker and more convenient for many users.
In true design style GDS are not simply dragging and dropping a component from central to local government. Together, the local authorities and GDS are conducting more discovery and user research to understand the needs of different councils and how to make Verify work in their context.
The work that’s going on looks really exciting and is being fully documented on the GOV.UK Verify blog and the Local Digital Coalition site. Here you can view all the products of the discovery work to date, including prototypes based around the fictional Argleton County Council.
At the event the GDS team also demonstrated GOV.UK Notify and Registers and suggested some cases where they might be used in local authorities – to very enthusiastic responses. Hopefully within the next 12 months, these components start to fill some of the gaps and simplify our current online services.
We’re really excited about the opportunities these components present and look forward to getting our hands on them in the near future to help drive our digital transformation.