NSW’s digital ID platforms are a north star for Canberra

Jason Stevens

Despite a recent security breach, the NSW Digital Driver Licence (DDL) has reached 77 per cent adoption across the state, driven by its ease of use and the necessity of citizens to interact digitally with the government during the pandemic. 

With the same legal status as the plastic driver’s licence, the DDL’s novel pairing of identity management systems with verification services is becoming a north star for the federal government to follow as it seeks to simplify government services and secure its virtual borders. 

While the breach exposed some shortcomings in the system, former minister for customer service and digital government Victor Dominello said the Department of Customer Service transparency and quick efforts to address the incident shows that citizens’ trust the digital approach compelling other states and federal government to consider similar identity management solutions. 

(L-R) InnovationAus.com publisher Corrie McLeod, former NSW minister for customer service and digital government Victor Dominello, and SailPoint solution engineering manager Gary Savarino

The new generation of digital identification platforms pioneered by the department has surpassed the limitations of the previous legacy platform, which could not get past 44,000 users. 

The result is a growing menu of possible use cases once legislation is in place to frame its future integration and interoperability into government business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) operations. 

Mr Dominello, who at the time of recording was the minister for customer service and digital government in the former Perrottet Government, joined Gary Savarino, solution engineering manager for SailPoint, and InnovationAus.com’s publisher, Corrie McLeod, for the latest episode in the video podcast series Identity inside/out: Getting ID right 

The trio discussed why previous consolidated national identity systems failed to deliver a world-class user experience and meet modern-day cybersecurity standards, and tackled potential use cases for digital identity, including security concerns, from both public policy and private sector points of view.

“Australians are not interested in old colonial borders. They want seamless service delivery across local, state, and federal levels. And, in the digital age, we should be able to provide it,” Mr Dominello said.

The goal within the next generation is a one-stop decentralised hub that combines digital identity and verification with biometrics, making NSW and Australia world leaders in identity security. Citizens can securely carry their identity and credentials on a mobile device, including birth certificates, permits, and driver’s licences. Personal data resides locally on the phone, not in a centralised government database.  

This hub limits oversharing of personal information and blurs the line between physical and virtual identification. A pilot for this decentralised digital ID strategy recently launched and focuses on proof-of-age purchases for alcohol.  

The federal government use cases for a digital hub extend into several other industries, including rent. 

“Renters already hand out too much personal information when applying for rental accommodation,” said Mr Dominello. “We could work with industry to deploy the identity system without asking renters to provide a physical copy of their birth certificate and passport.” 

Current digital ID platforms remain opt-in, with adoption expected to plateau at around 85 per cent. Older users are still reluctant to pair paper documents with verifiable digital ones.  

Creating a universal, inclusive personalised digital experience is pursued by both the government and private sectors. 

“Even voice services for name recognition pose challenges,” said Mr Savarino. “We have boundaries that need to be crossed for broad adoption – for example, when a person has two names as a first name.” 

Both speakers agreed that it would take at least a generation for systems to mature with the level of inclusiveness needed to meet the specific needs of all Australian citizens.  

Identity management and verification remain the lynchpins for ensuring universal adoption and acceptance by all sectors of society.  

“Both government and private sector players always need to know what critical data they are dealing with, its location, and who has access to it,” said Mr Savarino. 

Combining trust, privacy, and security while driving adoption in emerging digital ID platforms at a federal level depends on deploying world-class consumer-centric apps that are far from the traditionally cumbersome government platforms.  

According to Mr Dominello, the most significant future productivity play and biggest value proposition lie in integrating B2B and B2C identity credentialling into the fabric of government operations for ordinary citizens at a federal level.  

“If the federal government can work with industry to create this decentralised identity ecosystem, we will lead the world,” he said.  

InnovationAus.com has produced this video podcast series in partnership with SailPoint. For more information and to access SailPoint’s report, The state of identity in ANZ, visit https://www.sailpoint.com/identity-library/identity-australia-nz/. 

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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