Supporting the vulnerable with a digital identity

Written by Our News Team, DigitalAgenda

The Government Digital Service, Etive, Post Office, DWP and Tower Hamlets Council are working together to create digital identities for the digitally excluded. These hard-to-reach customers will now have the ability to access public services quickly and efficiently online with GOV.UK Verify.

Local Authority data will be used to create a ‘Digital Log Book’ (DLB) in Etive’s personal data store. The DLB will then be used by Identity Providers (in this case, the Post Office) to create identity accounts that align with government standards. From these accounts, citizens will be able to access and complete a range of government and local authority online transactions.

“The Post Office is committed to building an inclusive digital identity ecosystem that makes it easy for citizens to access local and national services” said Martin Edwards, Managing Director, Identity Services from the Post Office. ‘Sharing information just once removes unnecessary barriers and makes it much easier for people to access key services.’

GOV.UK Verify

GOV.UK Verify is a secure way to prove who you are online. A GOV.UK Verify digital identity can be used to access a variety of government services, such as DWP benefits, without having to go through the identity checking process each time.

Assured identity and local authority services

Tower Hamlets is working to use assured identity as a single, trusted login for its website services. The first ways in which users will be able to benefit from the programme include housing, Workpath, education and employment opportunities, as well as tackling poverty. GOV.UK Verify standards are the only UK standards for digital identity verification, and aim to reduce the complexity of accessing services provided by both the public and private sectors. Tower Hamlets Council is in the process of making more services available online, so residents can get what they need quickly and efficiently – at the click of a button. A reliable online identity will make the delivery of services more efficient for the council and more streamlined for their customers – supporting wider digital inclusion.

This innovative project follows on from the success of the Discovery and Alpha Projects, also products of the Etive/Tower Hamlets partnership. These projects assessed the use of local authority data, collected and stored in a Digital Log Book, to create assured online accounts.

Stuart Young, Etive’s Managing Director, said that ‘with only 38% of Universal Credit applicants getting through the Verify application process due to the lack of a digital footprint, this project really helps us to understand the ways in which we can better support the most vulnerable in society who are high users of public services. Proof of identity is a prerequisite to being able to access critical services and to participate in modern social and economic systems.’

The Challenge for Digital Transformation

This Beta project will demonstrate how aggregated LA data can be used to help citizens register for an assured identity, with their consent. The project will assess the process by which customers set up an assured identity for the first time.

Public sector transformation plans encourage customers to meet their needs through self help and management. Fundamental to this is a digital first approach that provides customers with the tools and support they require to find information and carry out transactions online.

To deliver big transformation and change, services need to be designed as web-based digital services. This can only be cost effective, timely and seamless if key digital components are built once and reused across every digital service. Online customer identity is one of the critical capabilities needed to underpin a comprehensive digital first offering.

Councils usually have several different customer facing systems, each with their own way of verifying and authenticating customers. Councils and Government ask customers to register for and use more than one online customer identity to access the full range of online services. There are many conflicting Internet Access Management Services (IAMS) with differing levels of security and interoperability which makes it difficult and complex for customers to access online public services.

Adopting Government standards has the potential to deliver savings and efficiencies by offloading the complexity and cost of running a graded, federated and trusted customer solution in-house and being tied to proprietary systems.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “This project is extremely important for residents in our borough as many are financially excluded and digital identity aligned to government standards will help give them the opportunity to have a digital presence to access services online. We are committed to reducing inequality and as more services move online, we want to make sure all of our residents are digitally included.”

whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London