GOV.UK Verify is the new way to prove who you are when you’re accessing secure government services online. It’s the latest innovation in the UK Government’s digital story that started at the end of the last century.
The origins of digital government and the rise of the Government Gateway
To really set the scene let’s remember what online looked like at the turn of the millennium.
The year is 2000. The world has just dodged the IT meltdown we all expected from the millennium bug and the average office worker is now using email at work almost every day. Digital pioneers dine out on stories that they have ordered books online from something called Amazon.com and a social network called FriendsReunited is about to launch and change the way we think about the internet forever. Facebook is yet to be invented.
It’s in this smartphone free, unconnected world that the UK Government introduces the world’s most ambitious digital change strategy of its time.
The vision was to have 100 per cent of government services online by 2005.
The Government wanted to create a centralised service for all e-Government services in the UK. This would allow citizens to access multiple public services online. No government in the world was doing more to meet the anticipated demand for digital.
The first version of Government Gateway’s registration and enrolment service was launched in 2001. The first fully operational service available allowed the UK’s first digital citizens to file tax returns online.
A model system
By 2007, with 11 million users, Government Gateway had established its place as a word-class example of digital government service delivery. The Gateway was handling 20 million transactions across different departments every year and counting.
The positive sentiment continued. Copycat systems started to appear in other parts of the world such as the Czech Republic.
By 2012, Government Gateway had exceeding even its own expectations. It allowed UK citizens to access 166 services across a total of 55 government departments. The UK government had created a digital environment that supported a staggering 50 million users.
GOV.UK Verify launches
Now if you wish to access government services online the new way is to use GOV.UK Verify.
The Cabinet Office started work on the GOV.UK Verify system in 2011 (back then it was known as the Identity Assurance Programme, or IDAP). Between 2011 and May 2016 the system went through a phase of private, then public Betas to become the live public service we know today.
GOV.UK Verify is designed to deliver the simple secure online experience that today’s internet user expects. To use services at GOV.UK, UK citizens just need to set up an identity account with a certified identity provider like SecureIdentity. Unlike the old registration process used at Government Gateway, registering is completed online without the need to wait for any passwords or login details in the post.
You can see all the services available to GOV.UK Verify users here. More services are joining GOV.UK Verify all the time so if you’ve already registered for SecureIdentity and you’re finding it useful, expect to find it even more useful as new services are added.