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Public sector digital trends collection | Article

Digital identity

Digital identity has been a hot topic in the public sector for more than a decade, with numerous national schemes and local projects, and arguments over frameworks, standards, and the role of the private sector as a delivery agent.

Socitm’s own research demonstrates the indisputable and fundamental importance of digital identity in the development of digital public services in 2023 and beyond. It is the key method for linking systems and services better, preventing fraud and empowering citizens to be more in control of their interactions with government.

“As a local government, we have an important role in developing a digital identity for our citizens. Doing this within strict regulations is not easy. We need regulations that are adapted much more closely to local needs.”

Luc Velghe – CDO City of Kortrijk, Belgium

The European Union has called on Member States to work towards the development of a toolbox including a technical Digital Identity Architecture and Reference Framework, a set of common standards and technical specifications and a set of common guidelines and best practice.

Issues of public trust are at the forefront of acceptance. As part of Canada’s Digital Ambition 2022, public consultations are underway for a federal digital identity program.

Across the UK public sector, 2023 will see a renewed focus on digital identity:

“We must also pay attention to digital identity beyond government services and give citizens control over their identity in the context of IoT devices in their daily lives.”

Raf Buyle, Digitaal Vlaanderen, Digital Flanders, Belgium

The main risks in the prioritisation of digital identity in the public sector in 2023 lie in three areas:

  1. A growth in the variety of apps and services or locations with dedicated ID developments, which could fragment service join up for citizens or create future legacy problems.
  2. The need for staff as well as citizens to have secure access to digital services from home and elsewhere, ensuring commonality in underlying infrastructure and security.
  3. A fall in the trust in digital public services that could result in a reluctance amongst sections of the public to accept digital identity systems, in turn holding back the development of digital transformation and digital inclusion.

Case studies

Scottish Government – public engagement

Public engagement and the digital identity service (blogs.gov.scot)

The digital directorate of the Scottish Government has launched a public engagement exercise as part of the programme to develop a digital identity service for the country.

“The public engagement project sees us engage with people across Scotland to help us create a digital identity service that is ethical and respects privacy.”

– Joseph Walton, Stakeholder and Communications Manager, Scottish Government

Digital Flanders – My Citizen Profile

Digital services for all (vlaanderen.be)

‘My Citizen Profile’ will be a one-stop virtual desk that citizens can contact for all their dossiers and requests with Flemish public service agencies. The Government of Flanders is committed to e-inclusion so that no one is excluded. Investments in digital information collection will provide better insights and policies.

Applying for services, getting a status update for your current dossiers with public service agencies, or requesting diplomas and certificates can all be done via the virtual government desk My Citizen Profile. The aim is to make it easy for citizens to inform companies or the government about, for example, a new address if they’ve moved, or, say,  to share their diploma with potential employers when job hunting. You could even register a new company.

“My Citizen Profile is today’s link between the government and the citizen. The profile will evolve towards provision of a digital identity, where you can identify yourself as a citizen in the online world, and also share other documents, certificates, and data via your digital wallet. As a citizen you are in control and as a government you can deliver proactive services.”

– Goedele Van der Spiegel – Department Manager Channel Solutions, Digital Vlaanderen, Belgium.