Jamaica to roll out national ID system by 2020

Jamaica is expected to finally conduct a complete roll-out of the National Identification System (NIDS) for Jamaicans and other residents by 2020, according to a report by the Jamaica Observer.

Onika Miller, permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, told the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament that the framework for NIDS is on track to be ready by this November.

“Yes, the project has taken some time [but] now it is at a stage where we have clear activities completed, where we have a design (and) the costing,” Miller said in response to a few parliament members who inquired why it was taking so long to implement the system. “We have sketched out a roadmap to 2020, indicating what are the different components, so we are actually further ahead now, with clear specifics.”

Miller told the House committee that the government will be ready to issue newborns with a National Identification Number (NIN) by the third quarter of this year.

Allison McLean, a director in the Office of the Prime Minister, which is implementing NIDS, said the idea is to “create a platform which has levels of connectivity and is a two-way process. So it’s not that we are going to be using their (other identification platforms) data to create a national identification system. The system will capture its own unique data set, but what will happen is that you will be able to cross-match (identifications)”.

It remains to be seen how much work has been done in consolidating the various databases that are currently
available through the Ministry of Education, Tax Administration of Jamaica, and the Planning Institute of Jamaica to prevent a duplication of efforts.

Miller said that the Registrar General Department’s civil registry will serve as the primary data set used in the first version of the identification system.

The permanent secretary said that attention to security will be paramount to the system’s planning, with plans to consult an identification systems expert.

“Identity theft and cybercrime is an issue that we are paying close attention to,” said Miller. “Security is a central part of our planning and there is a considerable amount of vetting that is also part of the reason why biometrics is something that we are looking at very carefully. We haven’t taken a decision on which features specifically yet, but biometrics is an important part of the security of the system.”

Though many entities will be able to gain main access to the NIDS, there will be varying levels of access that will determine the type of data they can view.

The Jamaican government has allocated $24.9 million in the 2015 national budget alone for the continuation of the project.

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