Mobility Fuels Adoption of Multi-Application eIDs in Government-to-Citizen ID Programs

March 23, 2015
Real-time communications results in improved security and government effectiveness

For years we have been talking about the increasing use of multiple technologies in major government-to-citizen-ID programs to address a growing array of applications and services.   As the applications have increased so has the sophistication of the technology. As we move ahead into 2015 we anticipate a number of trends impacting the use of multi-application, multi-technology ID cards.  According to Gartner, Inc. innovation in the government sector is being driven by four powerful forces: social, mobile, cloud and information.  In this article we will focus on the trend toward mobility and related innovations in government-to-citizen-ID programs. 

 While mobile phones and readers are increasingly present in commercial transactional environments such as renting cars, retail shopping and ticketing, large scale mobile applications have been far more limited in Government ID programs. However, the tide is changing.  The first signals of a paradigm shift are here.

 Innovations in mobile ID technologies are beginning to emerge allowing secure identification and authentication as well as instant access to critical information.  The strategic adoption of secure mobile eID applications may be found first in less mature markets where mobile phone usage is extremely high, and government-to-citizen ID programs have been transitioning to electronic IDs (eIDs) for some time.

 Historical Perspective: The Evolution of Multi-Application, Multi-Technology eIDS

Over the past five years governments around the world have made a dramatic shift to National eIDs.  Two imperatives have led this shift from static paper IDs to multi-application, multi-technology eIDs: 1) the need to provide effective defenses against large-scale forgery attempts; and 2) the opportunity to take a holistic approach to solving national ID challenges.

According to Acuity Market Intelligence, by 2018, 127 countries will be issuing 740 million National eIDs annually.  Approximately 3.5 billion people, nearly half of the world’s population, will have a National eID card.  The success of these programs will be measured by the degree to which they are adopted and utilized within the context of country specific objectives.  While some programs are as basic as creating a secure, forgery-resistant voter ID card, increasingly we are seeing complex, multi-application National eID programs.  With regard to the latter, these programs are leveraging the latest technology innovations and provide the greatest return on investment.

 Heightened security concerns, high traffic border crossings, and growing requirements for streamlined government services delivery are just some of the factors influencing this change.  Governments and national organizations are now increasingly likely to leverage National eID programs as an opportunity to increase efficiency as well as protect and ensure the identity of the holder.  This has given rise to projects calling for powerful multi-purpose ID credentials that operate on many levels, maintaining the highest levels of security while addressing additional objectives such as entry to secure facilities, faster border crossing, or access to health, education and other social services.

 Mobility: Driving Innovation in Government-to-Citizen ID Programs

Mobile phones are literally everywhere.  At the same time, we are seeing new secure enabling ID technologies – including software -- for chip-based credentials and mobile devices. Governmental organizations will finally be able to reap the rewards of mobility (flexibility, real-time access to information, confident interaction with citizens) and multi-function ID, while reaching the required levels of security and updateability for confident ID authentication. These innovations are particularly helpful to government agencies out in the field such as the police and border control.

 One such example is the Nigerian National Police which has embraced the latest innovations in mobility to improve the security and effectiveness of the government’s vehicle registration program.

 The Nigerian National Police Force

Nigeria has a huge population of 170 million people,  nearly a quarter of Africa, with an estimated 50-60 million vehicles on the road.  The challenge is found in the fact that one organization – the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) – collects driver and vehicle data to issue drivers licenses and vehicle documents while another organization – the Nigerian Police Force – monitors and protects drivers and vehicles.  The information collected by the FRSC is not sufficient or readily available to the police out in the field.

  To remedy this situation, the Nigerian Police adopted a mobile Biometric Central Motor Registry (BCMR) to provide real-time access to biometrically verifiable information plus ongoing access to accidents/crimes.  Currently in its pilot phase, the BCMR has the potential to be the most advanced vehicle registration program in the world.  Vehicles and owners are now being registered into a biometric central database and issued a biometric RFID credential.  When an officer approaches a vehicle, he/she can use the card’s most advanced visual security for a confident visual check, plus leverage the secured data storage that allows the Nigerian Police to access all credential and accident information in real-time via a handheld mobile device.

  At full deployment it is expected that the police will have more than 10,000 mobile readers distributed nationwide.  With the advancements made by HID the next generation mobile reader could be a smart phone.  Using smart phones as readers can significantly reduce infrastructure costs -- by an estimated $10 to $15 million.

  The secure and timely issuance of cards will be a secondary, but nevertheless important aspect of the program. Each organization will benefit from the more cost effective use of a shared infrastructure for encoding and printing.  This shared infrastructure will be able to issue more sophisticated RFID cards that include highly advanced visual security features. 

 In addition to improved communications and security, the new approach to vehicle registration will also help prevent car theft, provide forensic evidence and be a tool in the growing fight against terrorism.  Looking more broadly at the world, new mobile operating systems are enabling agnostic ID authentication and security for truly integrated, multi-functional secure mobile programs.

 Real-time communications has resulted in improved security and government effectiveness plus significantly reduced infrastructure investments in the long run. 

 So What’s Next?

Beyond the four forces identified by Gartner as driving innovation – mobility, social, cloud and information – advancements in materials, manufacturing processes and issuance systems are also paving the way for increased adoption of multi-application eIDs worldwide.  In addition to providing higher levels of security and functionality, these more sophisticated systems also deliver an increased return on investment for governments. At the same time, such advancements enable the delivery of more efficient and convenient services for cardholders. General technology trends, including the growing use of mobile devices, software as a service, and access to the “cloud” by individuals will continue to drive innovation and increasingly “citizen-centric” programs. 

 About the Author:

Rob Haslam is Vice President of HID Global Government ID Solutions.