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May 12, 2011

Alpha.gov.uk site launched by government

by Darren Allan

The government is to radically revamp its online offerings, and is testing the waters with the launch of Alpha.gov.uk.

Currently the prototype has just gone live, and the idea of the page is to unify all the different government sites under one umbrella online, and make it very easy to use.

This is all part of the Martha Lane Fox-led initiative which just yesterday saw the Race Online campaign enlist 100,000 digital volunteers to help some of the nine million plus people who aren’t online in the UK get surfing.

Making government services easy to access and use online gives those not convinced about the benefits of the Internet another reason to get connected.

The government says of the site: “It aims to be as simple as possible, and to place the needs of citizens first.”

“Developed in under three months by a small team within the Government Digital Service, it is a direct response to Martha Lane Fox’s recent review of gov.uk, which demanded revolution, not evolution, in the way Government services are delivered online.”

But on the opening blurb, it also notes that this is very much an incomplete prototype, and that people shouldn’t be relying on it, rather testing it.

Currently the page delivers news from the government and highlights popular tools and topics, such as how to pay your council tax, how much the minimum wage is and how to calculate holiday pay.

If you set a location by entering your postcode, you’ll be offered updates on local issues such as council petitions, planning applications and so forth – although currently this bit isn’t working (and probably many other bits).

Depending on what feedback the government receives from the public, the site will be realised or scrapped.

The unified portal certainly seems like a good idea on the face of it, although the current website layout looks very rough and ready. We’d have thought they could have launched with something a little slicker in appearance…

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1 Comment »
  1. Why “alpha” and not simply “government.gov.uk”?

    Surely that would have been less confusing?

    Comment by Brian Turner — May 12, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

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