Scotland makes inroads in digital identity project

The government has started building a prototype of what is planned to be a "user-centric" platform to access public services online

The Scottish government has reported progress in its digital identity service project, as it moved into a 10-week development and testing cycle of a prototype.

This follows a competitive tender project where Mydex CIC, a platform provider for digital services and the Digital Health and Social Care Institute, was awarded the contract to deliver the model, which will test the technical feasibility and usability of the proposed service.

According to the delivery lead for the Digital Identity Scotland (DIS) programme, Mike Crockart, the service will test the use of a strong authentication credential system for registration and login, with appropriate user consent. The idea is to enable the service to be simply reused across the various government offerings online.

“A reusable digital identity service will require the clear understanding, trust and engagement of users,” said Crockart in a blog post. “Our solution will be founded on user-centric principles reducing the need for further aggregation of identity data or growth of new centralised data structures, whether in the public or private sectors.”

“It will help solve governmental data-sharing conundrums by placing data that it holds under the control and for the benefit of the individual citizen,” he said.

Timescales are being defined for the prototype by the DIS programme team, which has been recently boosted with new team members from Sopra Steria, who had been working with the Scottish government under its digital transformation contract.

The first organisation to test the prototype of the digital identity service will be national youth information service Young Scot, in a project where attributes of the national entitlement card will be tested with dummy data, such as the opening of a bank account online and university and/or college matriculation process.

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Back in 2018, the Scottish government carried out a discovery exercise for its identity service and assessed alternatives such as the Government Digital Service’s digital identity service Verify, which was considered to be “well placed to provide assured digital identity services”.

However, Scotland found at the time that there were “potential issues” with Verify’s reach, and “other players in the market that could provide plausible alternatives”.

A couple of months after the initial discovery, the Scottish Improvement Service signed contracts with several technology providers to help develop the cloud-first digital identity platform in an initial alpha project, which tested technologies such as blockchain.

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