Do we need Digital Identity to finally deliver on the promise of the Smart City?

Otherwise their great potential will be ‘squandered,’ warns Thomas Bostrøm Jørgensen of AllClear ID

Posted 1 April 2019 by

Without Digital Identity, the great potential of Smart Cities will be squandered – and so the two communities need to come together.

The call comes from Thomas Bostrøm Jørgensen, European General Manager of provider of data breach customer notification and response solutions AllClear ID, who in an opinion piece on the SmartCityWorld website notes that, “Covering a city with sensors and connectivity is not enough on its own to make it smart — it will make it smarter, but applications will be limited” – but that Digital Identity could, however, “unlock the full potential of smart cities”.

Many of the services we use in everyday life are digital — checking our bank balance, buying goods, making travel arrangements and more are all done online and on mobile. But when it comes to proving our identity, things become frustratingly analogue, he adds, while also reminding us that the public sector would have a lot to gain from a truly Smart urban environment (“there are many other ways that governments can provide connected public services”).

Hence his call for more use of Digital Identity in planning such environments, given that fact that”A secure digital channel… would allow two-way communication and could be accessed using [digital ID], giving citizens access to vital information when needed, and making applications for government services far easier.”

The current model of envisioning the Internet of Things (IoT) would also be improved with Digital Identity added in, he claims – as it is too often built on the assumption that data flows to the manufacturer and the device is managed through the manufacturer’s portal and app, he writes, meaning that with multiple connected devices every service has its own username and password, creating an identity management nightmare – while “a single Digital Identity” would solve this “growing problem”.

Security will also be a big part of any successful Digital Identity scheme, as our proposed smart cities of the near future would mean more and higher-value transactions are conducted digitally: “Security is on a par with user convenience when it comes to driving adoption — any security issues will severely hamper Smart City initiatives.”

Offering the intriguing idea that a potential provider of Digital Identity could be “the city itself”,  Jørgensen concludes that, “Trusted Digital Identity is needed, and advocates of the Smart City must also advocate for [it].

“Without it, the great potential of smart cities will be squandered.”

The full version of Jørgensen’s think piece can be found online here.