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Community identity, digital public infrastructure pitched to catch up on SGDs

Categories Biometrics News  |  ID for All  |  In Depth
Community identity, digital public infrastructure pitched to catch up on SGDs

Businesses, governments, and non-government organizations are mooting different approaches to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including the provision of legal identity and birth registration for all people worldwide by 2030. As the halfway point is reached in the timeline, it has become clear that new methods are needed to reach the SDGs.

Some academics from the University of Minho in Portugal, in collaboration with the INESCTEC high assurance software laboratory, are working on a new form of ID with credibility built largely on community testimonies.

It is a community-generated ID system which seeks to serve especially remote segments of the population often overlooked in conventional ID schemes, a member of the team António Sousa explains in the latest episode of Biometric Update’s ID19.6 podcast.

IDINA, as the ID system is called, is considered a non-authoritative ID because it is not issued by the state or any state institution.

Its credibility depends on individuals who give information about other persons in addition to their name, says Sousa, adding that different sources of information do not know what others have said about a particular person.

As an example, a teacher could step up to add information about a person’s date of schooling, or a health worker such as a medical doctor or a nurse would add a date when a child was vaccinated. The more people give specific information about a person, the more credible that information is considered to be, adds Sousa.

IDINA developers expect to make it the digital basis for acquiring an official ID, and are also hopeful that someday, it could be adopted by states and converted to an authoritative ID system.

According to Sousa, he and his team decided to come up with the IDINA to make up for the gaps often left by conventional ID systems undertaken by governments which often do not reach all communities and all categories of persons.

So, he says they believe this informal ID would sort of increase the legal representation of these excluded people and also let them have a voice which can be heard.

“Even when we don’t have the state ruling the people, local communities usually have some chief of the community or some of the non-governmental agencies that are working with people. They have knowledge of people and each one has a different knowledge of people. They know some relations between the people. A is the father of B and so on,” says Sousa.

“When we get several pieces of information regarding the same person, we have a stronger belief that, okay, this information is correct, then we try to build confidence in information as we gather more information.”

Apart from chiefs and local authorities who can attest to someone’s identity within the framework of IDINA, Sousa says other professionals from public services which people usually interact with can also do so.

Sousa adds that the project is still in the phase of gathering and consolidating information about locals. Thereafter, it will progress to the stage of giving out the information they have about someone for purposes of ID verification. This could be done via a computer system or via smartphones and feature phones, he says.

“We are also developing some apps for smart and feature phones. If you have a smart phone, you can have every piece of information,” he mentions.

Digital public infrastructure; vehicle for attaining UN SDGs

Meanwhile, The Brookings Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD), has in a report made proposals on how efforts can be multiplied to meet targeted objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs) in the second half of implementation. The report consists of thirteen essays.

In the document, CSD-affiliated scholars demonstrate that midpoint gone with the SDGs, there have been so many shortfalls which need to be fixed as the world embarks on the next seven years of implementation.

One of the recommendations by the CSD calls for the expansion of trusted digital public infrastructure which the authors say is a vital launchpad to accelerate the attainment of the SDGs.

Here, the writers opine that as the 2030 deadline for the SDGs approaches, “government must find pathways to create foundational digital infrastructure that can be repurposed for a variety of uses,” citing India as an example where its extensive digital infrastructure, including the Aadhaar digital ID system, allows up to 93 percent of its population to access a variety of public services.

U.S VP, Mastercard join voices on financial inclusion

One of the things digital public infrastructures are credited for is their ability to integrate communities and enhance financial inclusion. The potential for digital and financial inclusion gains was echoed by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris during her recent three-nation Africa tour last month.

In Zambia, which was the last stop of her visit, Harris was joined during a roundtable by officials of Mastercard to drum the importance of scaling financial inclusion efforts in Africa.

During the exchange, they called on African public and private sector leaders to invest in projects that enhance digital and financial inclusion and close the yawning digital divide on the continent, according to a Mastercard press release.

The company cited its Community Pass initiative which serves as functional digital ID for groups like farmers in remote communities in Africa, Asia and elsewhere in the world.

This, it says, is part of its contribution in closing the 53 percent gap of people in sub–Saharan Africa who lack a proof of official ID.

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