On 26 October 2015 the Minister for the Cabinet Office Matt Hancock spoke at the Institute for Government on how digital transformation can improve government services.
In this excerpt he talks about the development of GOV.UK Verify and how he verified his identity on his mobile phone, in between meetings, using just his passport and the contents of his wallet.
You can view the full speech here.
Across the board, user research like this is yielding incredibly valuable insights, things you simply can’t guess in advance.
Take the work on Verify, the new sign-in platform that allows you to prove who you are, so you can access safely government services online. It is a world first, and has been offering users a level of ID security that wasn’t previously possible online. It manages to give these high levels of security, without the need for a national ID card or a national identity database.
The service works by letting you choose from a range of certified ID assurance providers – like Experian or the Post Office, which then verifies your identity online, using a range of tools that meet our published government standard.
And the provider can’t see what service you’re accessing, so your data is safe. Once the user’s identity is verified the certified company then vouches for them as they sign in to government services.
When GDS trialled this service, they gave people a list, showing the logos of the providers they could choose. But this made people feel uncomfortable. It looked too commercial, in a space where you really want reassurance that you’re dealing with the government. So when the team replaced the logos with the names people responded differently and more positively, and so of course that’s what now happens.
This is the future of service design: learning from the feedback of users so services meet their needs.
Earlier this year 10,000 people used it at the last minute to file a self-assessment tax return. I personally signed up myself, on my phone, in a car between meetings, using just my passport and the contents of my wallet.
This approach means Verify is growing organically, like the best web services. No big national launch, no minister pulling the switch; just users feeding back, service managers making incremental improvements and changes, and a service that keeps on improving.
And as we’ve seen, online security like this has never been more important. Last week’s news reiterates the need for the very best online security and Verify has become a powerful weapon against identity theft because it means you can safely do business with government online. For if it’s the first duty of government to keep the country safe, the first duty of digital government is to keep your data safe.