Editorial

Pandemic accelerating demand for decentralised identity

Decentralised identity allows organisations to move individuals around different organisations, departments and sites and with minimum friction as quickly as possible, says Condatis CPO, Alasdair Murray

Posted 25 November 2021 by Christine Horton


The past 18 months have accelerated use cases for decentralised identity within public sector organisations.

That’s according to Alasdair Murray, chief product officer (CPO) at Condatis, who says that the Covid pandemic demanded that sectors like healthcare implement faster and more secure ways to issue and verify employee credentials.

“We’ve been working with the NHS, which at the start of Covid recognised that they were going to need to move staff around hospitals and between hospital trusts. The challenge is that it usually takes them seven days to administratively move a doctor or clinician between trusts. But the pandemic needed them to act a lot quicker than that.”

Murray says that decentralised identity allows organisations to put trusted data or credentials about someone in a digital wallet on a device that they take with them when they go to a new hospital or trust. These credentials are based on their identity, training, professional qualifications, or security clearance, for example.

The benefit of decentralised identity is that it puts the data in person’s hands – you don’t need to connect up different systems when they arrive at the new hospital. The information is verifiable, can be checked digitally and gets the individual onboarded to work as quickly as possible, with return on investment (RoI) based on both administrative time savings and risk mitigation.

“It proves that they’re a doctor and what qualifications or training they have, and it allows them to onboard them really quickly,” says Murray. “That enables you to move staff quite dynamically around a quite complicated structure with as minimum friction possible to accommodate the resourcing needs of different places, as quickly as possible.”

There are an increasing number of examples in the energy industry too, he says, where Condatis has been working with Sellafield on employee onboarding.

“There are 17 nuclear sites around the UK and they have highly trained staff. How do you move them around? How do you prove who they are? How do you prove you know what training they have, or the jobs or roles that they can do when they appear somewhere else? That’s been a really powerful message.

“People have started to become more interested in the last 12 months – it’s that movement of people and proving things about themselves as they move around an organisation. Covid has really sharpened people’s minds in terms of how important it is, when your staff aren’t on site. It’s really helped to bring that that discussion forward.”

Forming trust frameworks

The solutions are also being applied within higher education, both for saving time to matriculate students, and making it is easier and quicker for graduates to show their qualifications upon graduation.

“An employer could say, ‘I want to check your check your qualifications’, and they can very quickly, digitally check them and make sure that they’re genuine and accurate,” says Murray.

As an organisation, Condatis works with government organisations such as Defra, DWP and the UK Hydrographic Office to secure their access to digital assets. It is also one of only four organisations globally working with Microsoft to implement decentralised identity using its verified potential solution which it is bringing to market.

Murray says Condatis is looking at the intelligence and experience it has picked up from all areas of identity. The Condatis Credential Gateway provides organisations with a SaaS-based solution that allows them to start issuing and verifying credentials in the easiest manner possible that they can integrate within their system.

“We’re packaging up everything that we’ve learned and wrapping it into a service that would allow somebody to issue credentials, easily verify them and start using them within their organisation,” says Murray.

“We really see distributed identity can be transformed in organisations, particularly around staff or student passporting. It gives them transparency about how their information is used, so you’re putting the power into their hands.

“The second part of it, especially in government, is forming those trust frameworks between government organisations, so you can say, Okay, I’ve got I’ve got an employee from hospital X and then moving to hospital Y. I trust that relationship I have with that other hospital to say, ‘if I see this digital information within their wallet, I know it’s true.’ For government that is forming that trust network, between departments, between organisations.”

Murray is talking about how decentralised identity is transforming digital journeys at the Think Digital Identity for Government virtual event on Thursday November 25.