Editorial

When done right Digital Identity is useful, cool and helpful, say real-world users at ‘Think Digital Identity For Government 2019’

As another successful ‘Think Digital Identity For Government’ closed its doors on Friday, a clear theme emerged; when ID happens, users love it

Posted 10 June 2019 by

“Identity is a thing, and it’s a really interesting thing. And if you tell people about it the right way, people get really excited by it.”

A simple enough statement, perhaps?

But it’s one that may just sum up what’s gone ‘wrong’ about Digital Identity in the UK in the past few years… we – the sector – have just been really bad at articulating what’s so important and, yes, interesting about it!

The source of the quote above just happens to be a user, but it’s one we’re choosing to highlight that could have come from any number of speakers at last Friday’s very busy Think Digital Identity For Government 2019.

And while it happens to have been made on-stage during her live case study presentation by Ros Smith, Senior Product Manager in Identity and Access Management at the BBC on ‘Re-inventing Identity Management at the BBC,’ we could also have chosen similar statements from other real people working in real organisations who have also become deeply interested in ID.

One we all heard from on Friday at the show’s Westminster locale, One Great George St, was, like Smith, not a professional ‘Identity’ person at all, but a GP – Dr Manreet Nijjar.

Nijjar has become deeply involved with trying to see what a Blockchain-based way of firmly tying document security with staff ID could do to help his colleagues across the NHS. Why? Because in this day and age, when you change jobs, like move to another Trust in the Health Service, you need to re-present vast amounts of paper-based documentation all over again, no matter how long you’ve worked as a clinician.

In Niijar’s case, a recent such move demanded three full days of his time, which he had to take out of his personal annual leave allowance – with around 25,000 doctor days per year wasted on pre-eomployment checks, it seems.

That’s just crazy inefficiency – inefficiency that he is convinced Digital forms of identity protection could relieve:

“On the one hand, we have oncologists who have to remember 77 log-ins for all the systems they need to use, while fraud and people claiming to be doctors when they aren’t can lead to very serious consequences for the public,” he pointed out on-stage.

Smith’s perspective is similar – with a clear need identified by BBC management for better ways to grant secure access to services so as to safely deliver the kind of high-quality content we all demand from the broadcaster. And another user speaking at Think Digital Identity For Government 2019 who says we just need good Identity solutions that work was the guy who’s trying to make getting your (or your friend’s) passport less of a ridiculous paper-based hassle, Chirag Agarwhal, Lead Product Manager at HM Passport Office’s Digital Services section.

“We’re trying to replace the old countersignature process with something digital – and we can say that user feedback so far on what we’ve built is as high as 96.6%, with one comment asking us to, ‘Make all government processes as easy to use as this!'” Agarwhal shared.

So last Friday, it was great to see real use cases of Digital Identity that’s seen as helpful, making a positive impact and whose contribution is seen as useful by stakeholders and service users alike.

Over the next few days, as we continue to report on the content and comments from central government, analysts and Digital Identity practitioners, we may also see what the blockers are that mean we only had three such stories last week on-stage – and not ten times as many.