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Embedding digital identity in the Jyväskylä Smart City Project

Embedding digital identity in the Jyväskylä Smart City Project

Smart cities will be able to create their own interoperable digital identities for residents, thanks to approaches developed by cybersecurity services firm Nixu via a partnership with Ioxio, a digital services and solutions provider, the firms announced last month.

The first application of this collaboration manifested in a trusted data-sharing pilot in Jyväskylä, Finland, in June.

The project saw the deployment of Nixu’s identity access management software and Ioxio’s Dataspace service, enabling remote and secure access control to several digital services and physical locations in the city.

Biometric Update spoke to Lauri Tielinen, lead consultant in digital identity at Nixu, about the Jyväskylä Smart City Project.

“The pilot itself was limited in size and targeted at the existing [digital] users already living in the specific area [Kangas] where Jyväskylä pushes new digital solutions,” said Tielinen.

Because of this, within the scope of the pilot, Nixu did not need to create a brand-new solution for digital ID verification for Kangas residents.

“The project just used the existing Kangas service portal users, who wanted to join the pilot,” the digital ID expert says in an interview.

However, in the larger scheme of the smart city initiative, Tielinen says the project’s purpose is to create Jyväskylä-wide digital identities for both the digital and physical worlds.

“The exact ways for initial user verification for this digital ID are still open, but it is very likely that upcoming services, such as the ‘Sinuna‘ service currently being built in Finland, in addition to the already established Suomi.fi e-Identification service would be used.”

Tielinen explains that while Suomi relies mainly on bank accounts, Sinuna will have use cases for more specialized applications, including onboarding international students.

“The existing processes used by property managers and property service companies would be utilized for the physical key delivery. Within the pilot, we mostly used existing keys the pilot users had,” said Tielinen, explaining that all or most apartments in the Kangas area have smart locks.

‘’Huge potential’’ for digital ID and IAM

According to Tielinen, the potential to use digital ID technologies in Jyväskylä, 270km north of Helsinki, is huge.

“Already in the current situation, the city has been very advanced in its digital offering. However, the identity and access management (IAM) solutions have typically been application-specific and not centralized.”

Tielinen further explains that, by building a centralized IAM solution, residents would be able to use both their physical and digital identities practically everywhere within the ecosystem.

“A crucial part of the pilot project has been concepting the commercial models around this; how different commercial services targeted at Jyväskylä residents could most feasibly utilize a centralized IAM platform.”

Further, the Nixu executive believes that in the future, Jyväskylä will eventually utilize a mobile phone-based application that citizens can use to prove who they are in addition to the actual (physical) smart keys.

“This idea is also something that is developed and concepted in the EU in different digital ID projects,” Tielinen explains.

“The purpose of the centralized IAM platform is to tie services, platforms, and the digital and physical worlds together. Ioxio Dataspace also fills an important role by providing standardized data sets for all the services and applications within the ecosystem, streamlining integration efforts.”

From a technical standpoint, Tielinen tells Biometric Update that the Jyväskylä pilot relied on the ForgeRock IAM platform.

In addition, the pilot’s most critical physical access control systems were integrated using Ioxio Dataspace as a data middleware layer.

“The customizable data sets in ForgeRock IAM were used to model the user-key relationship and allowed defining keys and accesses for the pilot users,” Tielinen concludes.

Albeit the most recent, the Jyväskylä pilot is not the only smart city project unveiled in 2022.

Back in May, a city in India required sewer workers to wear human efficiency tracking systems. In less dystopian news, Corsight AI was selected by OneMind Technologies in August to provide face biometrics for safe and smart city solutions around the world.

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