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Gibraltar’s eGov platform advances with digital ID cards and open-source shift

Gibraltar’s eGov platform advances with digital ID cards and open-source shift
 

In the past six months, Gibraltar’s e-Gov platform has made considerable strides in enhancing its digital services, Chief Secretary Glendon Martinez told GBC News. A new team and additional developers have been brought on board to drive these improvements. However, given the organization’s size, technical challenges, such as unexpected cybersecurity threats or major infrastructure issues, are inevitable.

One of the major initiatives currently underway is the re-platforming of every single service provided by e-Gov. This involves transitioning to open-source technology, which is expected to yield substantial savings compared to licensed products. The shift is aimed at improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of digital operations.

In addition to re-platforming, new services are being introduced to foster better engagement between citizens and e-Gov. A development in this regard is the establishment of a dedicated chat team within the customer service department. This team specializes in digital services, enabling users to access online services through face-to-face interactions at the customer hubs. This initiative aims to streamline the process for citizens who often experience frustration dealing with multiple departments and redundant bureaucracy.

Another notable advancement is the introduction of a digital ID card, which is currently in the testing phase. The card will allow citizens to store government-issued documents on their phone’s digital wallet. When interacting with government counters, users will need to double-tap their wallet, and the system will recognize them and provide the relevant services. This will include sharing necessary information across different government departments while adhering to GDPR rules.

e-Gov is also developing a Geographical Information System (GIS) designed to serve as a single point of truth for all departments. The system will eliminate discrepancies, such as multiple records for the same individual with different spellings, in a bid to ensure consistency and accuracy in data management.

In 2021, the government of Gibraltar revealed it will begin a process of integrating blockchain technology into its legacy systems in order to streamline government processes. The proposed blockchain software was put in place to enhance the functionality of Gibraltar’s e-Gov system, with the primary focus being to enable users to store government-issued and certified credentials.

Albert Isola is the government minister behind this initiative launched in 2021.

The digital age demands more efficient ways for citizens to manage their credentials, and self-sovereign identity (SSI) offers a promising solution. Isola, in his recent editorial for The Banker, emphasizes how SSIs empower individuals to control their identity and selectively share their data with other parties.

Traditional methods of identification, rooted in the 19th-century practice of photographic IDs, are increasingly outdated.

SSIs, leveraging blockchain technology, present a modern alternative. These digital wallets hold verified documents and certifications from trusted entities, such as government agencies or universities. Unlike physical IDs, SSI data is decentralized, secure, and recoverable. This technology allows users to manage their IDs, passports, and digital assets from their smartphones or computers, making identity fraud significantly harder due to the cryptographic association with unique wallet addresses, according to the blog post.

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