Richard Hurst, Co-founder and Director, Agile Byte
If British nationals overseas are affected by a crisis, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides consular support. How does it do that? Using a technology platform, known as Crisis Hub, that enables it to capture information about, and communicate with, anyone who’s affected.
The main challenges when building the Crisis Hub platform were:
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), a ministerial department, promotes the United Kingdom’s interests overseas, supporting our citizens and businesses around the globe.
Given Crisis Hub’s international reach, the FCO wanted to host it in the cloud. It chose UKCloud based on competitive pricing, technical capability and UK sovereignty.
“The FCO couldn’t risk personal data about British nationals being held offshore, which would potentially make it vulnerable to other governments’ surveillance programmes or legislation,” says Richard Hurst, Co-founder and Director of Agile Byte, a London-based IT delivery company.
Agile Byte oversaw delivery of the Crisis Hub platform. In line with the government’s disaggregation principle, Crisis Hub was developed and provisioned by multiple service providers, so that costs and responsibilities were clear.
crises supported in ~4 years
So how does Crisis Hub work? If a crisis occurs, British nationals in the affected area are prompted to provide their details. Whether information comes in by phone, web form or SMS, Crisis Hub captures and stores it all in one place.
Crisis Hub can prioritise people who need help most urgently. And if an evacuation is on the cards, it can integrate data from other sources to help with transport allocation.
The UKCloud platform makes it quick and easy for the FCO to scale capacity up during a crisis, then cut it back down once the crisis has passed. “We could actually test this with UKCloud, so the FCO knew for sure it would always have the right resources at the right time,” says Hurst.
“Using cloud hosting meant we could make Crisis Hub accessible from any device connected to the internet.”