As government services around the world become increasingly digitalized, digital ID systems are a critical part of these transformations—many of which run on the cloud. In our previous post, we discussed the benefits of digital ID systems, and how governments are using them to provide accessible services to the communities they serve. In this post, discover how to strategically design digital ID systems around a common vision and learn how the cloud can help accelerate innovation.
One of the first decisions organizations need to make when designing a digital ID system is defining what model the digital ID system should be: foundational or functional. National governments can establish foundational systems to create a general-purpose identity for each citizen, with which they can link to multiple different credentials and use in a wide variety of transactions. These range from receiving social services to validating a bank transaction. Functional systems, by contrast, serve a specific purpose, such as delivery of one specific social service. A person can have a variety of different functional identities for different purposes—such as a driver’s license, a taxpayer identification number, or voting registration. These systems can work in combination, too.
For example, in Peru, the National Registry of Civil Status (RENIEC) provides the single foundational digital ID, called DNI-e, to all citizens as the exclusive ID accepted for central government services. At the same time, hundreds of other stakeholders managing different functional IDs for regional or niche services have agreements to leverage the RENIEC database to provide higher quality authentication services.
Cloud providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) provide the data storage and instant processing that digital ID systems require to manage fluctuating incoming requests for authentication. In the cloud, they can elastically scale up or down resources in response to changing needs. By contrast, static, dedicated infrastructure operates off of a fixed amount of capacity, which increases operating costs and locks governments into older, inflexible infrastructure.
AWS maintains stringent protocols to safeguard the privacy and security of customer data. And, the AWS Cloud serves as a flexible platform for future-proof scaling and innovation. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many government services around the world had to rapidly migrate online. Governments already operating identity-based services using the cloud were able to leverage this adaptability to transition quickly and keep services flowing.
Every country has an ecosystem of public and private stakeholders who both provide and utilize digital identity. Different models can leverage these actors in different ways to establish, operate, and manage digital ID. These include:
Once the fundamental elements of a digital ID system’s architecture are in place, designers of digital ID systems need to decide how to establish proof of identity. Several pieces of information could be used to verify identity:
These categories have different implications such as difficulty of gathering the information; uniqueness; whether special software, hardware, or procedures are needed; and technical requirements for how to store, process, and use the information for validation.
Increasingly, digital identity systems are leveraging biometric identifiers, like fingerprints, iris scans, and facial templates. These are unique and inherent to the individual. They don’t require someone to remember a number or carry a special card, which is important for convenience, robustness, and usability. However, capturing some biometric characteristics requires special equipment, and the sensitive nature of this identity information creates a heightened need for technology like the cloud to meet the safety and security challenge of protecting and storing sensitive data.
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and transforming what digital ID systems can do and how widely they can be used. In addition to traditional biometric characteristics like fingerprints, newer approaches such as palm recognition may be viable in the future.
Additionally, experimentation with distributed ledger-based self-sovereign identity, as well as international integration of solely national identities, may mean that even well-established digital ID systems will face new opportunities and challenges to keep pace with international best practices. Flexible approaches based in the cloud can provide the foundation from which governments can pivot in response to these changing needs and technology capabilities.
Learn more about digital ID systems by reading the AWS Institute report Digital Identity: The opportunity for government with the Access Partnership, or the briefing of the Digital Identity Roundtable, hosted by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and AWS Institute, where senior policymakers shared lessons and identified common challenges about digital identification. Visit the AWS Institute for more.
Originally posted here