The future of sovereign documents (IDs) such as identity cards, passports and driver’s licenses is virtual. However, there are still some key challenges to overcome to get there, with IDs remaining “phygital” for the time being, explains Veridos.
ID cards, passports and driver’s licenses are increasingly “phygital” across much of the world. This sees physical and digital components combined with documents containing electronic chips that store data identifying their holders. Unlike purely physical ones, phygital IDs have one key advantage: data that establishes a citizen’s identity can be transferred to digital platforms without friction. Thus, they are indispensable for efficient eGovernment processes.
To advance these processes, the next logical step is to further digitize IDs – that means their virtualization for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. However, to get to that point, states, international organizations, and system providers have to overcome a range of challenges. Veridos explains the most important ones:
1. Develop new security solutions. Phygital IDs contain numerous physical security elements such as a surface that can be felt in relief, holographic portraits or watermarks. With virtual documents, these features are omitted, creating a gap that must be closed by new security solutions.
2. Build state-wide infrastructures. In order to use virtualized documents effectively, states need complete IT infrastructures throughout the country. This includes systems for the high-performance processing of large amounts of data. These are necessary, for example, for cross-border authentication of virtual identities, i.e. when a citizen travels internationally; or mobile solutions that enable citizens to use their virtual IDs for digital services in a legally secure manner.
3. Define international standards. International standards are needed for the smooth cross-border use of virtual IDs. Organizations such as the ICAO, a specialized agency of the United Nations, are already working on specifications for the harmonization and standardization of such IDs.
4. Design concepts for citizens’ data sovereignty. A key factor in the acceptance of virtual IDs by citizens will be the handling of their data. National authorities should design solutions that give citizens sovereignty over their data – for example, by allowing them to decide on a case-by-case basis what information they want to release. Such concepts can be realized by the decentralization of IDs.
5. Design user-friendly systems. In addition to the documents themselves, the goal is also to digitize the associated processes around application and issuance as consistently as possible. Since citizens usually only need new IDs at intervals of several years, they often do not become familiar with the digital systems. These systems must therefore be as intuitive to use as possible.
“The future of IDs will become more and more virtual, there is no doubt about that,” explains Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO at Veridos. “There will even be some outliers, especially countries that do not yet have phygital IDs, will simply skip this step. But the majority of the world will still have phygital IDs for the next ten years. Countries need a lot of patience to take the next step towards completely digitized documents, but it will be worth it. After all, they can take state-citizen communication and, consequently, the efficiency of public administration to a whole new level.”
Veridos, a world-leading provider of integrated identity solutions, and the Latin American systems integrator GSI Sertracen have announced the signing of a major contract with Costa Rica. The General Department of Migration and Immigration of the Republic of Costa Rica has entrusted Veridos and GSI Sertracen with the supply, installation, and implementation of next-generation electronic passports and the personalization system. Veridos will also supply its CLIP ID solution for outstanding color image performance.
The contract between the Costa Rican government and Veridos along with GSI Sertracen will allow the country to elevate its ID technology thanks to the delivery of ePassports with a polycarbonate data page as well as the software and hardware for personalization. The ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) compliant passports include Veridos’ CLIP IDhigh-tech color personalization technology to ensure the ultimate color brilliance of each ePassport holder’s image, improving visual verification. CLIP ID creates vibrant color photos using the advantages of both laser engraving and ink-jet printing.
Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO of Veridos, says: “We are very honored to have been chosen by the General Department of Migration and Immigration to be part of the modernization of their ID landscape. Together with GSI Sertracen, we will successfully transform the current machine-readable passport system to a fully-fledged biometric travel document solution. Costa Rica is one of the most advanced countries in Latin America and their passports with our cutting-edge CLIP ID color picture solution will soon reflect that, too.”
Thanks to digital systems for the application and issuance of identity documents, countries around the world are modernizing and optimizing their processes. Veridos, a leading global provider of integrated identity solutions, explains why these systems are an important tool to increase efficiency and transparency.
Today, digital systems ensure fast and secure processes for the application and issuance of ID documents in many countries. “These solutions provide significantly more efficiency and transparency in the passport system,” says Marc-Julian Siewert, CEO at Veridos.
Non-transparent analog processes in public administration can be a source of widespread problems. This also affects the ID and passport system. Too much paperwork instead of a central digital platform can lead to applications not being processed in chronological order or containing errors. Due to this lack of transparency, citizens may even receive documents to which they have no entitlement. This applies, for example, to diplomatic and consular passports. Furthermore, citizens cannot trace how long the issuance of documents takes, which complicates further public registrations or travelling.
“Digitalization allows a high level of process transparency which guarantees both the citizens and the respective state more security and predictability. Both benefit from this development,” explains Siewert. “The example of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is an impressive example of this.”
In Bangladesh, workflow systems automatically send alerts when applications remain unprocessed or work steps are not carried out, so that clerks can intervene immediately. Automatic text messages inform citizens that their documents are ready for the pick-up, providing them with official proof. Through online payment, the systems keep cash out of the processes and thus providing payment transparency.
To ensure that as many citizens as possible can benefit from these efficient processes, the systems are inclusive. For example, micro-payments via SMS also integrate people without smartphones or credit cards.
“In order to have the processes completely under control, Bangladesh has also brought the entire value chain into its own country, including production and personalization centers,” adds Siewert. “Comprehensive know-how transfer has also proved to be a decisive factor. Local employees have been trained in the technologies and procedures and are consistently putting them into practice.”
While the technical and legal foundations for successful eGovernment are already in place, many governments are still finding it difficult to implement digital public services into their systems – despite growing pressure from the public. Veridos, a world-leading provider of integrated identity solutions, recommends developing a master plan in order to ensure the efficient, sustainable realization of eGovernment systems.
While there is no one-size-fits-all eGovernment solution, an overarching master plan to guide government bodies towards sustainable, future-proof eGovernment is crucial to its success. Veridos defines five steps essential to such a master plan:
Define goals: eGovernment services provide the means to accomplish a variety of government aims, ranging from operational cost savings to fostering economic growth – aims that move beyond simply making government processes more efficient. Determining the priority of these aims is key in developing a successful eGovernment strategy. For citizens, the benefits of moving online can be significant, and the provision of digital public services has the potential to improve accessibility and empower those using the services. The governmental benefits of improving productivity and efficiency, reducing red tape and overheads, and streamlining and automating processes are also reasons to consider a prompt adoption of eGovernment services. Countries must prioritize and define the scope of these goals as an initial step.
Analyze status quo: Government bodies next should conduct a full assessment of their systems and processes, in order to determine where digitalized services are already in place and determine where improvements can be made. What does the current identity infrastructure provide? Are there standards, interfaces, data structures and access mechanisms that need to be enhanced? What are the potential opportunities for cost savings, increased efficacy, security and convenience? This should not be limited to solely analyzing technical aspects – it’s just as important to take a look at the body politic as a whole, including laws and regulations relevant to the digitalization. The analysis of the status quo offers the chance to review existing IT techniques and planned investment measures, to ensure that the implementation of eGovernment services is an efficient, cost-effective process.
Evaluate potential: By examining current procedures, governments have the opportunity to identify practices that could be streamlined. Ideally, a citizen-oriented single point of contact should be selected as a starting point, such as one application as an entry point for various services. Such a foundation ensures useability and maximum accessibility.
Establish pilot scheme: The costs involved in launching a widespread digital public service platform are substantial, and a pilot scheme that provides a working basis for future roll-outs is key in managing costs as well as efficiency. Once launched, the number of users for any eGovernment service will increase and drive further innovations, so a scalable system with key performance indicators is necessary to help gauge success.
Implement: When public services are digitalized, a holistic approach is essential. An IT action plan must be put in place, along with cybersecurity measures that will ensure infrastructure safety and safeguard public trust. In addition, it is recommended to introduce feedback and analysis tools. These help to track success and improve the service offering over time. Besides addressing questions surrounding technical implementation and security issues, the right legislation needs to be in place to enable the introduction of digital public services. In both instances, the need for qualified experts and a push for ICT education and development are vital to a country’s success.
“More and more governments around the world are implementing eGovernment solutions. For some countries, digitalization may already be a part of everyday life, but in many places, citizens have only restricted access to sovereign documents and public services. Yet this access is essential to enable people to exercise their rights in a modern world – be it through voting, taking out social insurance or simply traveling. Here, eGovernment can break new ground,” says Xavier Prost, Global Vice President Business Line eGovernment at Veridos. “An essential aspect of these endeavors is enabling citizens with digital identity solutions. As a world-leading provider of integrated identity solutions, Veridos is committed to monitoring and supporting these efforts together with its partners.”
Here you can learn more about Veridos and ”How to eGov”.
The People’s Republic of Bangladesh is announcing the enrollment and issuance service for the new forgery-proof ePassport in all its foreign missions worldwide. The required infrastructure is provided by Veridos, a leading global provider of integrated identity solutions. Veridos has already been equipping the domestic passport offices of the People’s Republic with the necessary infrastructure since 2020.
In the presence of a high-level delegation from the Ministry of Home Affairs with Asaduzzaman Khan, Minister of Home Affairs of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and the Department of Immigration and Passports, Bangladesh inaugurated the new ePassport service at its embassy in Berlin on September 5th. From now on, all Bangladeshi citizens can apply for ePassports in Berlin. In the upcoming months, Bangladeshis will also be able to obtain their electronic passports at all of Bangladesh’s other 75 foreign missions.
Veridos is responsible for the entire roll-out of the ePassport infrastructure. This starts with the pre-configuration and shipping of the enrollment and issuance infrastructure to all embassies worldwide. Veridos then sets up the top-notch infrastructure and trains the embassy staff.
Citizens of Bangladesh can apply for their electronic passport through an online portal. For large embassies with a high volume of ePassport requests, the online portal features appointment scheduling for the enrollment of biometric data such as fingerprints, facial image and iris scans. Applicants can thus avoid long waiting times. In the future, there will also be the option to pay passport fees online via the portal.
The ePassport documents are produced and personalized in Dhaka (Bangladesh) and shipped to the embassies. Through the ePassport online portal, applicants can view status updates and check if their ID document is ready for pick-up.
The new ePassport has already been introduced in Bangladesh, in January 2020, replacing the machine-readable passport. Veridos installed the new ePassport infrastructure in all 72 domestic passport offices in Bangladesh in 2020 and 2021. In addition, Veridos is also supplying the People’s Republic of Bangladesh with 50 eGates for automated border control at airports and major land crossings.
“We have developed a trusted and successful working relationship with our partner, Veridos, through the implementation of the ePassport infrastructure in Bangladesh. During this new project, which has equipped all our embassies with an ePassport infrastructure, Veridos once again helped us to meet our objectives within an ambitious timeframe,” explains Asaduzzaman Khan, Minister of Home Affairs of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
“We are very excited that our state-of-the-art project also includes equipping all Bangladeshi foreign missions with an ePassport infrastructure. It is another chapter in our close and successful cooperation. The new infrastructure will especially benefit the many Bangladeshis living abroad,” emphasizes Andreas Räschmeier, CEO of Veridos.
In its new technical report, the ICAO makes recommendations for the design of digital travel authorizations. This approach reduces the use of paper-based forms and processes and, for instance, speeds up the verification of visa-exempt foreign nationals who have to provide certain information when entering specific countries. With SmartTravel from Veridos, a world-leading provider of integrated identity solutions, public authorities can adopt the ICAO guidelines through a quick and flexible implementation process.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has published a new Technical Report for Digital Travel Authorization (DTA). The report’s recommendations and specifications lay the foundation for further global harmonization and standardization of digital travel authorizations, which can be used, for example, in a travel authorization program for visa-exempt foreign nationals.
Among other things, the report outlines the data that public authorities need to request from a traveler for a DTA application, as well as the information that should be included in the permits issued. It also specifies a DTA profile for a so-called “Visible Digital Seal for Non-Constrained Environments” (VDS-NC). This is a two-dimensional barcode that contains personal and travel-related data such as duration of stay or purpose of travel. This data is stored and digitally signed in the 2D barcode and can be securely read and verified by border officials and airline personnel for entry into a country.
With Veridos SmartTravel, an existing solution for digital travel authorizations, authorities can implement the new ICAO recommendations and specifications immediately. The solution includes a web portal for travel authorization applications and electronic payments, as well as a backend for reviewing applications and issuing digital travel authorizations, including the ICAO-compliant VDS-NC. It also offers verification scanner software for reading the VDS, which can be deployed on both stationary and mobile devices.
“The new ICAO Technical Report is an important step towards digital travel authorizations that are globally consistent and state-of-the-art,” says Xavier Prost, Head of Product Management at Veridos. “With our flexibly configurable SmartTravel solution, authorities can design their digital travel authorization process in line with the new guidelines. In doing so, they are completely future-proof, because the solution can adapt to any ICAO changes, as well as to any new individual requirements that may arise.”