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British Government Hopes One Login Boosts UK Standing as Digital Leader


Britain’s Government Digital Service (GDS) recently began the deployment of the One Login digital identity system in the hope that its implementation will enable the country to boost its position as a leader in technological innovation in the United Nations.

Specifically developed to simplify public access to online services offered by the central government, One Login is currently in the beta phase of testing among several key civic agencies. Eventually, it will be required by all government offices in order to deliver a tailored and more personal approach to accessing public services.

Worth £400 million, UK’s One Login system is hosted by Amazon Web services (AWS) and is seen as the immediate successor – and eventual replacement – to the problematic GDS Verify initiative.

Gunning for Digital Leadership

For his part, GDS chief executive Tom Read expressed hopes that One Login would bring the UK back to the lead as one of the world’s top digitally-enabled nations through improved access to government service on both computers and mobile devices.

Back in 2016, the UK topped the UN’s e-government rankings. However, given the glitches in the Verify initiative, the British government has since plunged to eleventh place.

Inside a Serverless System

What specifically makes One Login unique among public service access systems is that it is the first and only server-free government digital transformation program. 

This makes the system more cost-effective to use compared to other online government service systems, and also scalable and more resilient against online attacks. The last two are particularly important, given how the use of a number of government systems tends to peak unexpectedly.

For GDS digital identity director Natalie Jones, One Login also has the virtue of increasing a government agency’s online agility, as well as decreasing the operational load imposed on work teams. Likewise, having a server-free system enables digital management personnel to write and deploy code without needing to manage physical infrastructure.

The benefits in terms of online security are also good as it gives deploying agencies the ability to fine-tune controls, while those at the GDS can lock down specific areas of the system whenever necessary.

Not an Easy Transition

However, Jones also pointed out that she and her team ran into a number of issues in the process of making the shift to a server-free system. Several developers wrote code in the context of a containerized setup and did not consider how it would run in a different sort of environment. As a result, services responded slowly and the response time for users bordered on the unacceptable.

But now, the system appears to have overcome its birthing pains. Now that the continuous delivery pipeline has found its groove, so to speak, developers can now roll out over 200 changes a week to One Login’s operational environment without a hitch.

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