Digital identity: Can local governments now meet the high expectations of today’s citizens?

Main visual : Digital identity: Can local governments now meet the high expectations of today’s citizens?

Using DLT systems to build citizen trust through more transparent and personalized government services.

Today, citizens have high expectations of their governments to provide essential support for their everyday lives, from goods, services and infrastructure, to health and well-being. But too often these high expectations aren’t met.

Whereas private sector businesses meet consumer demand with tailored and personalized online services, government services too often fall short in terms of transparency, accuracy, accessibility, efficiency and personalization.

Is digital identity via DLT the key to personalizing online government services?

Some believe digital identity using Distributed Ledger Technology is the ultimate empowerment of the citizen.

The technology provides each individual with control over their own data in a personal digital wallet. This is then connected to a distributed system and enables them to choose what data they share. With each wallet holding personal data for identification purposes, as well as a range of other records, citizens can for example prove who they are, the assets they own and their level of education.

This in turn helps government agencies to provide efficient and personalized services.

Digital Identity in action

Cross-border solutions 

Founded in 2017, with Fujitsu as a founding member, Alastria is a non-profit association that promotes the digital economy. ID Alastria is a digital identity model proposed by the association, based on a Self-Sovereign Identity model. It ensures that:

  • users can interact with a range of government services with the flexible use of their identity
  • password or credential chaos is removed
  • misuse and theft of personal data is avoided
  • the user can manage the data themselves and control what they do or don’t reveal

Local governments can provide user user-friendly services, strengthen trust with citizens, and comply with regulations. Crucially, it assists with reducing administration efforts, increasing efficiency and promoting the integrity of data and processes.

e-Services 

A kind of invisible government – one that proactively anticipates the events in each citizen’s life and gives them what they need when they need it – is already in operation in Estonia. While there are citizen benefits, it also helps the government run more efficiently.

Take the example of applying for disability benefit in the UK. Currently, disability benefit must be independently vetted by an external contractor.

In an automatic, digitally-enabled system, the cost of this external contractor could be removed. The time efficiencies also speak for themselves. Civil servants won’t have to spend so much time chasing paperwork, while citizens get faster access to the services they need.

Understanding the digital identity debate

The use of this type of digital identity technology promises great benefits on one hand, but it also brings its own set of issues that need to be managed and considered. Whilst proving who you are was previously handled by governments, digital identity solutions suggest this should now be done by a set of distributed servers.

This poses the question of whether this is what society wants. And who decides how identity should be owned, used and operated across our societies and economies?

But what we do know is that improving the lives of its citizens is high on every government’s agenda. Digital identity has been a hot topic to support this objective for several years and is one that continues to attract debate across the globe. It is also one that stirs passion in people throughout the world on either side of the argument.

Learn more about Distributed Ledger Technology and the debate around digital identities in our round-table whitepaper: Local and Regional Governments: How digital identity helps to build trust with citizens through more efficient and better services.