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Digital driver’s licenses near public availability in Iowa


As Iowa moves forward with its plans to use digital driver’s licenses backed by biometrics in 2019, a representative of IDEMIA, which is providing technology for the project, says the adoption of digital licenses is inevitable, IEEE Spectrum reports.

IDEMIA Director of Business Development for Government Solutions Rob Mikell was interviewed by the Spectrum at the recent Connect:ID 2018 conference, and discussed how digital driver’s licenses work, and the stage of development they have reached.

Mikell defines the technology as “a digital, secured rendering of your driver’s license that is dynamically connected back to the system of record—that would be your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).”

Iowa began testing the IDEMIA solution in 2018, one of half a dozen states to explore digital driver’s licenses on mobile devices during the year. The application is automatically updated by events such as a license suspension or a 21st birthday, it authenticates the license holder with facial verification, and features privacy versions for proving identity or age without revealing additional personal information, Mikell says. The app communicates with a laptop in the law enforcement officer’s car with encrypted Bluetooth signals, providing the identity of the driver before the officer leaves the vehicle.

Mikell says IDEMIA currently has a pilot with Delaware, which is not one of the states previously reported to be working on digital licenses. To make licenses work in different states, regardless of the technology provider each state selects, interoperability standards are being developed by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Other countries with digital driver’s license projects include the Netherlands and Brazil, according to Mikell, however he expects that people everywhere will still carry physical licenses for the foreseeable future.

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