Enabling person centred digital tranformation in Greater Manchester - GM Identity

By Kieran Smith, Digital Programme Manager, GMCA and Rebecca Stockdale, Head of Product, Shaping Cloud

2nd August 2021

GM Identity is Greater Manchester’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) product and is a collaboration between the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and Shaping Cloud, a technology innovator based in Manchester.

GM Identity takes the best of the latest standards and development in IAM and incorporates those concepts and protocols into a new digital product, enabling seamless access and sharing of apps and data across organisational boundaries. For those that don’t know, IAM ensures that the right people in organisations can securely access the tools they need to do their jobs effectively.

GM Identity launched in January 2020 and is a key part of the wider Greater Manchester Digital Platform which was built to ensure that professionals supporting citizens have the right information, at the right time and in the right way. It provides the infrastructure that can be rapidly adopted in other priority areas to drive improvements to our citizens too.

GM Identity and the digital platform are supporting our strategic aim to ensure that everyone in Greater Manchester (GM), whatever their age, location or situation, can benefit from the opportunity digital brings.

Why GM Identity?

There is an increasing need to create common and stronger public services. Services that we work on collaboratively across the region. In fact, we’ve committed through our Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint to offer digital access to public services that is joined up, user friendly and makes sense.

With on-premise single sign-on no longer meeting upcoming needs, the increase in legislative and resource demands and the requirement to rapidly deploy and access systems across organisations within GM, it was recognised that there was a clear need for a GM-wide IAM solution.

The ambition with GM Identity is to streamline resources, share assets, control authorisation and authentication and hopefully reduce the amount of “red tape” we see across public sector organisations and our citizens that are accessing relevant services.

Due to the number of systems and associated login credentials, we recognised the value GM Identity can add in efficiencies for both staff and citizens.

How does it work?

GM Identity brings together Microsoft’s Identity stack, it also incorporates the latest identity frameworks, standards, and protocols, as well as automated workflows to enable non-technical staff to manage access to resources.

It also incorporates the relevant NHS standards and is one of the first non-NHS apps to be authorised by the NHS to do so. By doing this, we’ve created a flexible and secure identity, authentication and authorisation service ideal for public sector.

Having these identity credentials and permissions follow users across the network of apps and tooling means we’re reducing account creation and maintenance tasks across all administrative touchpoints and by leveraging Azure cloud technology and cutting-edge best practise in authentication, the system bridges the gap between the currently available Microsoft services and bespoke system and context requirements; creating end points that work with various applications and line of business systems.

It works with multiple identification providers and trust vectors to share the right data to allow the access of information, delivering the end user a consistent single sign on experience and flexible authentication methods. Integrating with NHS Login also provides the service with NHS-compliant identity verification for patient access to data and systems.

The benefits

The system allows the flow of information by sharing data between our citizens, health care professionals and local authority representatives, safe in the knowledge the data is secure and only being accessed by appropriate parties.

GM Identity is currently in use via apps used to reduce smoking in pregnancy, digitise child development plans, and facilitate interactions with various stakeholders regarding school age children’s development requirements and we’re already looking at how it can be used to help others across Greater Manchester, such as supporting homelessness services and other important areas of health

The future

Having created a system that can handle both small and large-scale implementations, there are aspirations to:

  • onboard further identity providers to widen citizen and relevant staff access outside of the region

  • enable the movement of staff between organisations with ease

  • facilitate the access of network-based devices and Wi-Fi

  • integrate into HR systems, to reduce administration in areas such as new starters and leavers

  • widen the user management interface capability which allows app developers to manage their GM Identity configurations and administer users

Visit our website to find out more on Greater Manchester’s digital ambitions.

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