A digital birth certificate being developed by the NSW government could be ready for testing by the end of June, the company involved in delivering the technology says.
The government has been developing a prototype of the digital birth certificate which it says will be optional and designed to complement rather than replace paper certificates.
It is expected to be widely accepted by government, businesses, schools, and sporting organisations for citizens to apply for products and services.
The government says a survey of almost 1,500 people from across NSW, Queensland and the ACT, conducted as part of the community consultation phase of the project, showed that 80 per cent of respondents said they would use a digital birth certificate if it was available and universally accepted.
Global consultancy Thoughtworks is building the technology, which will include integration components of the digital birth certificate, a web portal and iOS and Android apps.
Mason Andrews, Portfolio Director, Government & Public Sector for Thoughtworks, says the product will allow citizens to only share aspects of their birth certificate required for the service they’re applying for.
“At the moment, you’ve got to hand over your entire birth certificate… I think it’s really great to be able to put consent back into the hands of the public,” he told Government News.
This is the first time it’s been done anywhere in the world, according to Mr Andrews.
“A lot of places have digital birth registration…but actually being able to store and access the digital birth certificate as an identity… is something that we’ve not seen anywhere else in the world.”
Thoughtworks currently in the delivery stage of the project and was working to get the iOS app ready for testing with citizens by the end of June with a view to launching it by the end of the year, he said.
To ensure the security of the data, Thoughtworks is working on the security architecture and drawing on its experience working with other government departments around the world.
“(We’re) also drawing on the experience of the NSW government; they already have a digital driver’s license, they have a number of different apps,” Mr Andrews said.
“We’ll be looking to work together on ensuring this is secure and essentially make sure that the privacy of citizens and the public is protected.”
Future of digital identity
In the private sector, there has been a move towards using digital identities to interact with services and the government is now following suit, Mr Andrews said.
“When we think about how we can deliver good digital government, that starts with identity.
“It’s very tricky to be able to give citizens and the public access to services without first knowing who they are and having a secure digital identity.”
Embracing a model that uses a digital identity will provide more options for governments, he said.
“It means that governments can more easily innovate and more easily deliver services online.
“There is a very large percentage of the public who prefer online, easy to use and proactive government services, and I think it’s tricky to do that if you don’t have a strong digital identity.”
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