Trusted ID solutions will be key to unlocking the ‘new normal’
Trusted ID solutions will be key to unlocking the ‘new normal’ Digitized eGovernment services come to fore during COVID-19
COVID-19 vaccinations are now creating safe environments around the world. In those countries where vaccination programs are most advanced, citizens are once again going about their usual daily activities – including safe travel. But verifiable proofs of negative test results and/or vaccination are increasingly being recognized as a vital component in helping individuals and economies return to what is becoming the “new normal”.
COVID-19 has clearly influenced the way in which governments globally have thought about the online services they provide for their citizens. In just seven weeks, between 25th March and 13th May 2020, the proportion of UN member states creating their own dedicated COVID-19 eGovernment solutions of various kinds jumped from 57% to over 97%.
These applications range from the provision of basic information on COVID-19 and quarantine restrictions to many far more innovative ones. Online dashboards in Canada and Australia, for example, have allowed citizens to keep a precise track on the course of outbreaks; chatbots in China have been used to assess infection risks while in the UK cameras, sensors and AI algorithms normally used to control road traffic have been redeployed to measure and control pedestrian social distancing.
The increased provision of eGovernment services has been fueled by several factors, one of them being COVID-19.
Identity solution providers, too, have launched valuable applications essential to addressing the current situation. VeriGO® TrueSeal, for example, allows secure, convenient and privacy-friendly digital attestation of sensitive documents – for everything from immunization records, medical certificates and sick leave slips to curfew exemptions, travel permits and even access to critical infrastructure. The solution relies on a visible digital seal that is verified in combination with a physical or digital identity document via a unique document number, does not contain any personal data and is cryptographically secure.
Neither the World Health Organization nor the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) believes that proof of COVID-19 vaccination should be a condition for international travel. CART says that evidence of testing that is “secure, trustworthy, verifiable, convenient to use, compliant with data protection legislation and internationally/globally interoperable” should suffice and suggests the use of a visible digital seal to deliver this.
However, the difficulty of meeting often competing goals should not be underestimated. There may be challenges, for example, in compliance with local data protection legislation, which varies widely in different parts of the world, and therefore with the requirement for global interoperability. The option of a digital or physical hard copy certificate is also important because not all citizens have access to the latest digital technologies. Digital certificates also need to be available remotely, with verification possible offline as well as online.
As far as possible, governments should be trying to streamline deployment at the same time as maintaining high-security standards. To this end, they should definitely consider using existing public key infrastructures (PKIs) in the creation of the certificates. Furthermore, any solution needs to be standardized and implemented nationwide. While IT systems may vary between certificate issuing sites, the integration of a single solution will create consistency and efficiency across the board. The search, therefore, is for eGovernment solutions that are secure, convenient and, above all, trusted by citizens.
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