Gov.UK Verify processes over 10k new digital ID accounts per day amid COVID-19

Gov.UK Verify processes over 10k new digital ID accounts per day amid COVID-19

Government service Gov.UK Verify grew in popularity during the COVID-19 crisis, reads a blog post from the GDS Digital Identity Team in Wired Gov. The digital account helps people prove who they are online and access government services, like applying for Universal Credit, checking their State Pension or requesting a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Before COVID-19, only 35,000 people were applying for a Gov.UK Verify digital identity on a weekly basis, but since March 16, there have been more than 640,000 new accounts due to the need for financial support.

The Gov.UK Verify team has been remote since March 23, working closely with identity providers Digidentity and the Post Office to scale up the infrastructure and manage high traffic levels. Identities previously issued by Barclays, Experian and SecureIdentity will still be available for the next 12 months, writes Public Technology. CitizenSafe and Royal Mail ended their collaboration when it was announced the program would no longer receive government funding back in 2018.

After applicants complained they had experienced significant delays on the platform, the Department for Work and Pensions increased investment to scale up the platform and allowed access to Universal Credit through the government gateway login system.

Online queues, reducing manual checks by letting users scan the chip from their passport, and training additional team members made it possible to process 400 people per minute a month later.

“The identity providers… put an online queue at the start of their sign-up journeys, to help them stagger the use of their services, [and] scaled up their infrastructure rapidly and significantly, so that more users could go through the identity check at once,” GDS wrote. “[They also] brought forward the launch of a new identity-verification method which lets users download an app to scan the chip from their passport, reducing the need for manual checks, [and] trained an extra 70 team members to carry out the manual parts of the verification process.”

To balance traffic between identity providers, people were assigned identity providers, rather than choosing for themselves, preventing overcrowding and queues that would have slowed down the process.

There has now been an average of over 10,000 people signing up for the service on a daily basis in the last two months, according to the reports. Despite funding deadline set for April 2020, the Treasury said it would extend the deadline for an additional 18 months due to an increase in Universal Credit applications amid coronavirus.

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