Digital ID needs open standards to be truly interoperable

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Driver's licenses, transportation cards, employee access control, health services…governments and associated bodies across the world are faced with a number of ID solutions to be developed, managed and delivered.

And in an increasing effort to streamline, centralize and formalize more services and operations, demand for new and advanced solutions has never been higher.

But for the agencies responsible, it’s a brave new world. Faced with numerous strategic and technical considerations, finding the right partners to help define and deliver these projects is challenging.

Open standards might not be high on the considerations list (or even on the list at all) for those developing ID solutions, but they should be. Not only do they bring their own set of benefits, they also speak directly to a number of the common pain points faced by government agencies.

In any ID project, agencies have multiple players to consider at each stage. Choosing open standards will enable solutions to have a level of independence that will be invaluable over the long term. As requirements change, open standards can help governments feel confident that solutions are agnostic, flexible and safe from vendor lock-in.

With budgets often being crunched and closely inspected, this also empowers agencies to select from a range of vendors that best meet their budget and strategic requirements. Not to mention that with full interoperability across the whole end-to-end "transaction," managing the evolution and scalability of solutions over time is dramatically simplified.

There are also several technical considerations needed. Consumer demands for convenient, easy-to-use, multi-application (combining two or more functions onto one card or device) solutions are on the rise, as well as a desire to identify on multiple devices – whether that’s a smartcard, mobile or wearable device.

From adding access control to a library card to managing a loyalty scheme with transport ticketing – these types of solutions deliver real value to consumers and governments alike, but can be costly and complex to develop.

Utilizing an open standard, solutions are instantly interoperable, dramatically simplifying the introduction of new form factors or applications. Agencies are also better empowered to take ownership of their solutions, determining the functionality levels themselves and negotiating the best deals across multiple vendors.

ID solutions deal in extremely sensitive data. Government agencies are acutely aware of the damage a compromise in citizen data protection can cause and consumer trust is essential to the success of any new solution. Thankfully, a move to open standards doesn’t mean reduced security or privacy.

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