According to the World Bank, a digital foundational identity is one that is ‘built in a top-down manner with the objective of bolstering national development by creating a general-purpose identification for use across sectors.’ In his article ‘ID Enabled Social Protection Delivery Platform for Inclusive Development,’ Thampy Koshy, Senior Partner, Ernst & Young, argues that there is an acceptance across governments, developmental agencies and civil society that digital foundational ID supported by strong and robust policies is the key to delivering on sustainable development agendas across the developing world.
To achieve these goals, he argues, many countries have established digital foundational IDs while at the same time digitising the country’s social protection schemes, but often in separate silos, leading to duplication in investment and potential for error. An integration between the digital foundational ID and social protection delivery systems is the next step in enabling seamless and efficient benefit delivery to improve the living standards of the most vulnerable citizens.
A joint note by the World Bank and UNICEF, in 2013, spells out that a systemic approach to data and information management for social protection can provide ‘a coordinated and harmonized response to the multidimensional vulnerabilities of individuals’ – one that focuses on ‘exploiting interactions across programmes and is mindful of establishing complementary incentives across programs.’
The first step in this, according to Mr Koshy, would be to harness the digital foundational ID system in the country to identify the residents and assess their needs. A unique common identifier would enable cross-linking across government and aid schemes to rationalise multiple social programmes. Digital foundational ID systems help to serve the prime objective of implementing a social programme – that of efficiently delivering the programme benefits (goods, services, cash) to the eligible beneficiaries.
In a recent press release Veridos sets out several ways in which digital services can help governments and their citizens through the COVID-19 crisis.
Firstly, the introduction of an eGovernment platform can have a multitude of benefits for all citizens. Citizens have access to official documents through a secure personal online vault. The online vault, securely stored within the government’s cloud, provides access to identification documents that can be retrieved and shared at different levels.
The platform might also allow the use of digital medical services through video appointments, online learning, and even renewal of expired documents online.
This platform can also be used as an efficient way to broadly communicate with citizens. One such example would be the ability to send official announcements from the government via a standardised application directly to the citizens’ smartphones.
Moreover, in daily encounters eGovernment allows for touchless authentication through the digitisation of citizens’ documents. A mobile driver’s licence can be authenticated by scanning a one-time generated QR code, thus avoiding the exchange of a physical document between citizens and law enforcement officers.
In the new emerging normal, the provision of eServices will play an important role in maximising security and increasing access to essential government services for all citizens. Secure eID can make sure that even during difficult times, citizens and governments are protected with secure digital services and continuous processes.