GDS to extend GOV.UK Notify to councils

Invitation to local government service teams to begin using the notification platform is accompanied by the addition of extra features

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has opened up the GOV.UK Notify platform for use by local authorities.

Notify on smartphone screenIt has announced plans to invite 20 service teams in local government to begin sending messages through the service, which went into public beta for central government bodies in March.

blogpost on the plan says that many of the local government service teams with trial accounts are keen to begin using Notify, which provides a standard mechanism for notifications to the public on progress with service requests.

“Local government needs for sending notifications are very similar to those of central government,” the blog says. “During the invite-only period we’ll learn what’s different for local government in terms of branding and paying to use Notify.”

It adds that once the platform is available to all of local government, the team will begin to look at a similar approach with the NHS.

Letters and replies

GDS has also added two new features to Notify, making it possible to send letters and reply to text messages through the service.

The additions have been outlined in a separate blog that says the letter sending service works by setting up a template in Notify, then providing the personalised recipient data by uploading a spreadsheet or using the Notify API. It is possible to preview the letters before submitting to Notify for printing and sending.

The existing formatting is deliberately simple, but there are plans for more options and to make it possible to print and post letters created by an organisation’s casework systems.

The ability to reply to text messages sent over the platform has been added to allow people to carry out tasks such as confirming, cancelling or changing an appointment, reporting something or providing follow-up information for an application.

There is also an option to automate the processing messages received, or to view them in Notify.

Further plans

Other steps scheduled for the next few months include allowing multiple sender names and reply-to addresses, customising the expiry time for text messages, staggering the delivery of notifications, checking mobile numbers are valid before sending, and allowing people to request to join a service.

To date there are 70 service teams from 34 organisations using the platform, and they have sent more than 12 million emails, text messages and letters to the public.

Image from Cabinet Office