What drives success for government ID projects

What drives success for government ID projects New identity documents can boost a country’s profile, enhance its reputation and extend its trade links

The launch of any new government identity project, whether a new passport, driver’s license or ID card, can be both multifaceted and challenging. At the same time, it also opens up a number of groundbreaking opportunities. Provided that the right processes, technology and partners are in place, it allows governments to bring about far-reaching, transformative results for a country and its citizens.

The introduction of a key identity document is the ideal time for government officials to enhance and modernize security processes and infrastructures and implement the latest advances in document technology. It is also a golden chance to broaden or improve services, such as public healthcare. And in emerging nations, it provides an opportune moment to increase the population’s access to a secure legal identity.

Security needs are paramount

The motivations driving the timing and objectives of any new government ID initiative vary between countries and projects. Nevertheless, security remains the top priority on all government agendas. Governments are well aware that border control needs to keep a country’s citizens safe and for this they need sophisticated technological solutions.  

Take Costa Rica’s new ePassport, introduced in March 2022 by Costa Rica’s General Directorate of Migration and Immigration (DGME). The biometric, chip-based solution is based on Veridos’s CLIP ID technology. It includes a tamper-proof polycarbonate data page, where biometric details are embedded, and a true-color portrait photo. Overall, over 60 security features are integrated into the next-generation passport, making it invulnerable to forgery.

Jose Rolando Colchado, Managing Director for Mexico at Veridos: “Cutting-edge CLIP IP passport technology provided by Veridos updates the former machine-readable passport system and transforms it into a completely biometric travel document solution that is practically impossible to counterfeit.”

Agreements boost citizen benefits

In addition many ID projects can introduce a range of benefits for a region and its citizens via cross-border agreements. For example, developing an ID solution fully compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) specifications for secure travel documents means that other countries will be confident that those documents are reliable and compatible with their own authentication systems.

Likewise, standardizing a national identity document in line with international agreements can broaden a country’s reach and its trade links. The East African Community (EAC) regional common market, for instance, accepts computerized driver’s licenses and ePassports which have been issued in one member country across all of the EAC’s seven member countries.

Dr. Aweke Lemma, Managing Director for Uganda at Veridos: “The adoption of the East African ePassport throughout the East African Community has boosted regional trade and is paving the way for the development of a strong regional economic bloc.”

Local expertise equals independence

Agencies providing economic or humanitarian aid, such as the World Bank likewise urge the adoption of sophisticated national ID documents. Such agencies need access to reliable, trustworthy data to gain an overview of a country’s demographic profile before granting aid, such as grants and loans.

Developing nations are keen to create the right infrastructure and technical expertise to ultimately become independent and fulfil their own ID needs. “Developing countries want to work with an established identity solutions partner to establish all the skills and infrastructure locally so that in the future they can run long-term sustainable solutions by themselves,” says Lemma.

Take Uganda, as an example. In 2018, the state-owned Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) set up a joint venture, Uganda Security Printing Company (USPC) with Veridos to modernize the country’s ID documents. The 15-year-partnership covers all production of security documents, including ePassports, national ID cards, and driver’s licenses, as well as the supply of associated systems and services.

At the same time, the joint venture provides jobs for highly skilled workers and promotes local expertise in modern security printing technology so that Veridos can transfer management of the purpose-built facility in Entebbe at the end of the 15-year period.

Elsewhere, Bangladesh has opted to use a highly innovative electronic passport solution designed by Veridos. Secure ePassports are produced within the country. What’s more, passengers can use the advanced ePassport to verify their identity at the country’s first eGates, installed at the main airport in Dhaka. Here again, Veridos ensures that knowledge transfer takes place, training local employees in all the relevant technologies and systems.

Meanwhile, in Cameroon, ELECAM (Elections Cameroon) and Veridos have set up a 10-year partnership to develop a decentralized, mobile voting system to improve voter registration and manage voter data. This covers the entire voting process from voter enrollment to the delivery of biometric voter cards to setting up a central voter registration database. Veridos supplies the technology while ELECAM operates the system.

Encouraging public uptake

At the end of the day, the true success of an identity document initiative is truly shown by the number of citizens who use it. Government officials therefore need to effectively communicate the goals behind the update of a new ID document and the benefits involved, while reassuring citizens that their data will be kept private.

That’s why the launch of a new ID document usually involves a publicity drive. For example, when Costa Rica introduced its new ePassports, several officials emphasized its cutting-edge technology and stunning design in the press.

There is a lot of work involved in developing, launching and implementing government identity document initiatives. However, that work clearly pays off – both in terms of economic progress and enhanced identity infrastructure. “Government identity document projects essentially represent a huge opportunity for a country and a chance for it to enhance its image and profile on the international stage,” says Lemma.

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