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Governments look to biometrics for service provision as Ireland reports huge savings

Australia and US launch biometric verification for secure access to government services
Governments look to biometrics for service provision as Ireland reports huge savings

Digital ministers from around the world gathered for a UK-hosted summit to discuss how technology can help governments improve service provision amid global problems such as the COVID pandemic, climate change, exclusion and inequality.

The Digital Nations summit brought together the digital ministers from Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Republic of Korea and Uruguay to discuss the opportunities artificial intelligence, big data, digital identity and other technologies could offer.

“The last eighteen months have proven that digital transformation is no longer a ‘nice-to-have,’ but an essential tool with the potential to improve lives by building more efficient and innovative public services,” said the UK’s Minister for Tech and Digital Economy Chris Philp.

“The UK is committed to harnessing the latest technology to deliver more on people’s priorities and level up the country, so it was a privilege to host this year’s Digital Nations summit to share insights with member countries and learn from their experience.”

The ministers published a joint statement with a section devoted to a Digital Identity Working Group. Published by the UK, which does not have a national ID system nor plans for a government-backed digital ID scheme, the statement says:

“We recognise the importance of effective governance and putting in place the right frameworks to ensure public confidence in digital identity solutions, protect privacy and data, and promote transparency and inclusion.

“As we work to fully realise the benefits of digital identity solutions in our respective contexts, we recognise the importance of collaborating through the Digital Nations, to explore opportunities for interoperability and facilitate the cross-border use of digital identities in the future.”

Ireland publishes favorable cost-benefit analysis for public service identity management

The Irish government’s Department of Social Protection (DSP) has published an extensive cost-benefit analysis of the Public Service Identity management framework which was introduced in 2010, operated by the DSP on behalf of the whole Public Service.

The report covers the three elements of the management framework: the Standard Authentication Framework Environment (SAFE), the Public Services Card (PSC), and the MyGovID online identity platform.

“The report finds that this investment has been successful in both financial and qualitative terms. Financially, the investment paid for itself in less than five years, and the discounted Net Present Value of the initiative is highly positive, with a central estimate of +€206 million.

“The main driver of this positive result is the savings realised from not having to repeatedly re-verify people’s identities: if the Public Service Identity management framework did not exist, then at least 17 million extra identity checks would be required from 2010 to 2030 to deliver the same level of public services.”

If the financial model used by the report took into account further efficiency gains for the government and public, there could be additional savings of €300 million (US$339 million) to €1 billion ($1.1 billion).

US Internal Revenue Service launches improved ID verification process with ID.me

The IRS has launched improved, mobile-friendly sign-in process and identity verification to allow more people to securely access the department’s online tools such as managing Child Tax Credit.

The update has been developed under the Secure Access Digital Identity initiative (SADI) and the verification service is provided by ID.me. Users will require an account with ID.me requiring biometric onboarding, and if they have already registered for one with a specific government service, they can use that.

As well as increasing the number of people who can access the system with their identity documents, the IRS has increased help desk assistance.

New South Wales to introduce face verification for government services

Service NSW, the executive agency and portal for services of the New South Wales government, is to introduce face verification for access and create a decentralized credentials wallet, reports IT News.

With the aim of reducing fraud and simplifying access to the portal, the agency is tendering for liveness detection and facial analysis software. The service will be an opt-in, with existing modes of authentication still available. The agency will later develop a way for people to hold credentials in a secure, decentralized wallet.

Meanwhile, at a national level, the Australian Taxation Office is piloting biometric technology from the UK’s iProov, adding liveness detection to strengthen the country’s myGovID system.

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