Government introduces beta website for range of services

Jennifer Scott News
1 Feb, 2012

The government introduces a cloud-based beta for all public sector services

The government has taken the covers off a central website for various departments, coupled with calls for public feedback.

Gov.uk is hosted in the cloud and will act as a central hub for Government services, enabling citizens to get all the information they need from a single website - from paying council tax to checking maternity pay entitlements.

The idea came from Martha Lane Fox, who wrote a report for the Government back in 2009 calling for all services to be available online to encourage digital interaction. The alpha version of the site was launched in May, but with the latest version, public feedback is key.

Primarily, ultimately, most importantly, this is a beta and for a beta to succeed it needs your feedback,” said Tom Loosemore, lead developer for Gov.uk. “So, please, go look at the site, have a play and tell us what you think – the good, the bad, the disastrous, the brilliant.”

Although the site looks like real progress, there is still a way to go. The next phase, due in a few weeks time, will see a private beta of a publishing platform, so all Government departments can use the same tools for the website.

The third phase will then bring a ‘global experience language’ to the table by the end of March, enabling external organisations, such as the BBC, to get involved with Gov.uk.

Loosemore admitted the current beta missed a number of much needed public services, such as renewing passports or job searches, as well as descriptions of what each Government department handles, but he promised updates would be made in the next wave of the beta.

The development team behind Gov.uk is small and is focusing its efforts using open source software to keep the process as open as possible to all.

We’re building Gov.uk the way Google build Google and Amazon build Amazon,” concluded Loosemore.

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