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Development Toolkit - Notification Services

SCOPE

The scope of this article is to give a high-level overview of the Notifications Service functionalities, process flows and integration methods.  It is not intended to serve as a detailed technical guide for system integrators. For more technical details refer to the Notifications Service Integration Guide.

INTRODUCTION

In 2017, MITA decommissioned the old mGov Gateway and invested in a new shared service, the Notifications service, to enable the communication between Government, citizens and businesses.  Through its web-based Notifications Portal, it gives complete access to Government Ministries/Public Entities’ clients and administrators to send notifications, via SMS and/or Email, to citizens and businesses.

This shared service has two modes of operation, manual (through the Notifications Portal) or automated (through an Application Program Interface (API)). The API is based on the exchange of predefined XML and JSON files.  A user that is granted access to the Notifications Portal will be able to access the Notification Portal using the CORP credentials.  If the user is not a member of the CORP domain, a system account will be created. 

The Notifications Shared Service provides the following functionalities: 

Registration and/or Deregistration of Government Application Services;

  • Manual and Integrated posting of SMS via JSON and XML acknowledgements;

  • Email and SMS messages accepts ASCII characters, Unicode and multilingual support;

  • Preferred language can be set to each recipient in a group;

  • Receipt and Validation of incoming SMS from Recipients;

  • Functionality that allows SMSs greater than 160 characters to be automatically split into more than one message (up to 7 messages);

  • Scheduling of sending of SMSs and Emails;

  • Sending of SMSs to both local and foreign numbers;

  • Sending Bulk Email and/or SMSs to a predefined group of recipients; and

  • Attachment of documents when sending Emails.

For information regarding the available web interfaces for manual use of the Notifications service, refer to the User Manual​ and the Instructions Guide​.  For integration through the Notifications API, refer to the Integration Guide.  For a copy of the sample code, contact MITA on notifications.mita@gov.mt .

APPLYING FOR THE NOTIFICATIONS SERVICE (Test and Production)

In order to make use of Notifications Service, a Government entity representative needs to raise an eRFS (electronic request for service) with MITA Service Call Centre, applying for the Notifications: Request for Integration Service.   For guidance on how to fill in the eRFS, refer to the eRFSGuide​​.​​

Following servicing of the request, an email will be sent to the client with instructions and credentials to be used each time SMS messages are sent to the Notifications Gateway.

Note: Such request will take approximately 5 working days to be processed, thus it is advised to initiate such request as early as possible.

ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT

The respective Government Entity has to nominate at least two administrators for a specific Government service whereby the appointed users will be responsible for the management of user accounts to access the Notifications Portal.  For matters related to the user account management, the Government entity representative should raise an eRFS with MITA Service Call Centre.

REPORTING

Authorised users are provided with reporting functionality, which provides detailed SMS statuses that are consumed by respective Government Services.  Such reporting includes also filtering functionality for refined searches.

COST

All new requests for SMS notifications shall be chargeable to the respective client based on usage.  For further information, liaise with the respective MITA Client Relations / CIO Liaison.

MITA RESPONSIBILITIES

MITA shall provide the following Services to the Client:

  • Upkeep and hosting of the SMS Notifications Gateway;

  • Account Management for key Organisation Administrators;

  • Provision of technical support and consultancy service to Clients and respective suppliers.

CLIENT RESPONSIBILITIES

The Client shall be responsible for the:

  • Correctness and accuracy of the information transmitted through the Notifications gateway using the network of the Mobile Operators.  The Client shall ensure that the content of each Message does not infringe any law. The Client shall indemnify MITA in the event of  third party claim in relation to the content of any Message;

  • Cooperation with MITA including but not limited to providing all such necessary information as may be required by MITA for the purpose of rendering the Services;

  • Appointment of such personnel as necessary to address any reasonable requests made by MITA from time to time in connection with the provision of this service;

  • Acceptance and adherence to the Terms and Conditions associated with the provision of this services;

  • Access to individual authorised users.


 

BEST PRACTICES

The following are some best practices to adopt when integrating with the Notifications Gateway:

1. Use scheduling outside office hours;

Due to the fact that the Notifications Gateway will mostly have high take-up during office hours, any bulk SMS’s that can be scheduled after office hours will be processed in a much faster and reliable manner.

2. Implement a Listener to receive an acknowledgement status on the SMSs;

The developer may create a Listener, implemented as a web page embedded within the application’s backend, which is used to receive messages and acknowledgments from the Notifications Gateway. 

3. Send bulk SMS / Emails in batches of up to 1,000; 

Bulk notifications should not exceed 1,000 notifications in total.  Although the system is able to process larger batches, it is highly recommended to split such large batches into smaller batches to accommodate all the requesting entities in the most efficient manner. 

4. Email Attachments not to exceed 5MB in size;

When attaching documents to emails, such attachments should not exceed the file size of 5MB. Larger file sizes will impose unexpected stress on the system and the operation may fail. 

If any of the above best practices are foreseen not to be met, kindly contact MITA on notifications.mita@gov.mt and advise accordingly. 


 

SMS PROCESS FLOW

The SMS process flow works as follows:

1. Authorised entity submits a request to the Notifications Gateway to send an SMS message either from the Notifications Portal or from the entity’s system / application through the API;

2. The following is the message status process flow of each SMS;

i. Accepted

The message has been accepted by the gateway and is awaiting delivery to the designated recipient.  Scheduled messages will also show this status.


 

ii. Sent

The message has been pushed to the Message Broker queue and is awaiting routing to the appropriate operator carrier

iii. Enroute

The message is currently being delivered and is awaiting acknowledgement from the operator.

iv. An SMS will have one of the following statuses:

- Delivered

The message has been delivered and has received an acknowledgment from the operator that the message was received by the recipient.

- Undelivered

The message was not delivered to the designated recipient due to an upstream operator issue.

- Expired

The message has exceeded the maximum number of attempts or time to live parameters.

- Failed

The message was rejected by the Messaging Gateway.

- Invalid Address

The supplied address that is being used to send the message was not valid.

- Rejected

The message was rejected by the operator.

- Unknown

The message was rejected for an unknown reason by the operator.

- System Error

The message was not delivered due to a Messaging Gateway error.

v. Acknowledged

The consuming application was notified that the message was processed.


 

ASSUMPTIONS

MITA does not guarantee continuous and fault free provision of Service by the Mobile Operators or other Third Party networks and shall not be responsible for the transmission of the Service over the network of such Mobile Operators or other Third Party networks.

This service is dependent upon the service availability of the networks of the Mobile Operators and other dependent Third Parties.  The timeliness of the delivery of the Messages may be delayed or otherwise negatively impacted by fluctuating traffic patterns.  MITA will not accept liability nor will it be held liable of accountable for undelivered messages or messages delated in circumstances arising and being outside the control of MITA.

EXCLUSIONS

The following are excluded from the Notifications Service:

  • Software development services for the deployment and integration of applications or services of the User Ministries onto the Notifications Service;

  • Maintenance and support service and/or software enhancement on Government applications or services integrated with the Notifications Service.

CONTACT

For further information on how to integrate or consume the Notifications Service, contact MITA on notifications.mita@gov.mt