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#Identity Technology

Enhancing legal identities with digital technologies

4 Mins.

While identity documents will retain their physical components for the foreseeable future, digital add-ons and complements help us produce documents more securely and use them in more inclusive ways. This digitalization is apparent across the document life cycle, with measurable benefits to the user.

The last few years have seen legal documents (identification documents like ID cards, passports, driving licenses, etc.) throughout much of the world being extended with digital components. Those digital add-ons will become increasingly important for governments as well as for citizens.

Governments can enhance both production and enrollment with the help of digital tools. Citizens, especially younger people, who expect digital delivery of services via smart devices like phones, will profit from a more inclusive, comfortable interface with their documents.

Digital identities for digital lives

A key element in introducing digitalization into the document life cycle is the embedded electronic chip. This technology enables secure storage of your data, as well as identification on digital platforms.

Take the use case of international travel: such digitally stored and verifiable identities are fast becoming indispensable for quick and reliable verification and authentication when crossing borders. These same qualities also contribute to an efficient eGovernment process.

Artificial intelligence makes the difference

The introduction of artificial intelligence is a key trend. It is a powerful tool in detecting quality and information inconsistencies. It is already being used for quality checks on physical documents. The design and production of these documents follows the strictest rules. Even small shifts from these standards can invalidate a document. Artificial intelligence therefore helps prevent inaccuracies as early as the production stage.

The entry of data at the enrollment stage can also be executed much more securely if AI checks whether all the data regarding a person is congruent. Inconsistency is quickly detected, with further checks made to ensure a unique and secure identity.

A Veridos tool currently in the pilot phase is of interest with regard to travel. Among other efficiencies, it can analyze travel patterns based on the stamps in a given passport. It does this by combining AI-based image recognition and optical character recognition (OCR). It detects border stamps and reads their contents, such as entry and exit dates. By doing so, it deduces the passport holder’s travel pattern. Officials no longer have to manually sift through and evaluate these stamps to understand what countries a person has visited, for how long, and in what order. 

Business e-signs a virtual document

Digitalized crossings

Of course, AI functions in the background, and is thus not directly experienced by travelers and others who need functional sovereign identities. However, there is a digitalized system that is finding its way into more border control situations, where travelers can experience its benefits for themselves.

Self-service eKiosks are being seen at more border crossings, especially in airports. Travelers scan their own passports and register their biometric data, such as fingerprinting and facial imaging, with secure software. The need for a physical check is removed, or at least lessened. Passenger flow is thus streamlined, with measurable benefits to the authorities in terms of time and efficiency, and a better journey experience for travelers. Time is saved, aggravation avoided, and control is maintained. 

In the same way, eGates make it much easier for officials to deal with rising passenger volumes. This sort of “first-line inspection” brings another advantage: the eGate detects deceptions, such as morphed images, much more reliably than the human eye. If an individual triggers a warning, they are referred to the second line of verification, which is a physical check of their documents.

It is clear that identity verification at borders is now quite technologically advanced, and will lead the way in digitalizing the document life cycle.

Effective eGovernment, easy to use

The bigger trend is that digital approaches being used in border control are also applicable in the larger field of eGovernment. Unmanned eKiosks can capture and renew documents, AI can be utilized to detect discrepancies, and biometric capture tools, such as contactless fingerprint scanners, can easily and quickly enroll and secure data.

It is obvious that such a move toward ever-increasing digitalization is both optimal and necessary. Governments have recognized this trend. They see the advantages of digitalization, from capture and enrollment to identity verification, and are ready to invest in this regard.

However, a fully digital identity ecosystem without any usage of physical components is still a vision of the long-term future and is not conceivable at the present time.

Woman with a smartphone and digital icons

Obstacles to virtualization

While the benefits of digitalized documents are clear, there are still issues that need addressing before digitalized documents are equal to physical documents or even replace them. These need to be addressed both locally and globally.

Physical documents have immediately apparent security features, like visible holograms or haptics. Digital documents present a new challenge: while they are themselves secured, existing levels of security like cryptography have to be transferable to a relatively less secure device like a smartphone or tablet, on which the document may be stored or viewed. It is also true that digital identity solutions require technical infrastructure, like connectivity and the ability to process huge amounts of data. Further, sovereign identities depend upon their being acceptable everywhere. Universal protocols are critical to the virtualization of this sector. Equally, the user experience needs to be inclusive, so people feel enabled to use what may at first be new and strange. Finally, citizens should have the right to decide what data they share. Data privacy and digital sovereignty are of great importance, now and in the future. 

Veridos has the experience and the expertise

Digitalization is already deeply rooted in modern identity systems. It helps us to travel more safely and in greater comfort, while facilitating controls for the authorities. This process will continue to advance in the identity industry.

Whether the identity sector will ever manage without paper documents is open to question. But digital components are a hot topic. Their further development will continue to improve, step by step, the highly secure processes around identity documents.

In that scenario, Veridos’s solutions add value. Veridos’s background – born of G+D’s expertise and know-how and the rock-solid reliability of the Bundesdruckerei (Germany’s federal printing office) – sets it up to be a trailblazer in this area.

Published: 20/04/2023

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