How GDS scaled up GOV.UK Verify to help us cope with COVID-19

A great UK ID but also GDS story: how it helped IDPs and the Universal Credit team ramp up to meet the challenge of the Lockdown

Posted 12 May 2020 by Gary Flood

In a typical week before COVID-19, about 35,000 people created a GOV.UK Verify Digital Identity.

But since 16th of March, over 640,000 new accounts have been created – testament to a huge uptake in Universal Credit enrolment, due to the impact of the Lockdown.

The good news: the Government Digital Service (GDS) has helped the two main Verify IDPs (Identity providers), Digidentity and Post Office, successfully scale up their systems to handle the huge increase in traffic.

And as a direct result, thousands of people could access services they urgently needed to support themselves and their families during this public health crisis: indeed, between 16 March and 26 April, the Verify performance dashboard shows that 640,289 people were able to create a new identity account. 746,827 used an existing identity account.

That means over 1,387,116 people have been able to access the essential government services they need during this time. And in traffic terms, the two IDPs went from being able to accept just 25 people per minute into their services to 200 inside a week – and now, it’s 400 people.

GDS’s rapid work meant that the online queues at the start of the sign-up journeys, which had peaked at 155,000 people, disappeared after 7 days.

The details come in a very informative new blog on the GDS page on GOV.UK, published yesterday, which specifies the special project management and development changes its team instigated to deal with the crisis.

These included a good relationship with stakeholders, an acceptance it “couldn’t do everything at once”, and that user support teams are a crucial part of the user journey “and have been an integral part of our response”.

Great to see such a positive story out of government IT – well done to all involved.