As part of the Government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was asking businesses to offer their support in the production of ventilators and ventilator components. They wanted to quickly put up a form to collect businesses’ information after the relevant call centres and email accounts were overloaded.
The key challenge of this project was the pace: BEIS was looking for a form to be published within a day.
We deployed a small squad – two developers and a product manager – to tackle the challenge. We used the GDS front end kit to develop a form with the required questions within a day, before iterating it once live to make it increasingly robust and user-friendly. The form was on a Heroku application, with a PostgreSQL database and Fathom analytics.
During the project, we protected time to reflect on what we’d learned, in order to feed it into the model for our rapid response squads; see our reflections here.
The form was live for less than a fortnight; it collected ~5,000 responses, had ~200k unique visits and was linked to from the primary coronavirus page on GOV.UK. We delivered the data to the Cabinet Office via BEIS for use in the national response.
As a result of our work on the form, BEIS was contacted by multiple bodies who were looking for the same rapid response work. We went on to deliver a similar project for the Competition and Markets Authority, at first via BEIS and then with a separate contract.