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Scottish digital identity prototype gets positive report


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Digital Identity Scotland has issued a positive report on a prototype of a digital identity system for public services in the country.

The unit within the Scottish Government has just made the report public after completing it in April. This followed the use of the prototype to test its technical feasibility and usability of an attributes based approach to online identity assurance for services.

It was developed with Mydex CIC, a platform provider for digital services, and its partner the Digital Health and Social Care Institute.

The report says that testing the user journey showed that users quickly and easily understood how they could benefit directly from the introduction of this approach, such as in making it easier to apply for and use services.

Against this, many did not immediately grasp how using this approach also helps service providers help them, which points to the need for better communications to explain the advantages.

A number of ways of authenticating the identity of participants were also tested, indicating that not every service needs the same levels of assurance. This prompts the need for the need for a ‘horses for courses’ approach to authentication, where the right user journey is identified for the right service.

Recommendations in the report include carrying out an options appraisal for the creation of an attribute ecosystem across Scotland, and further design, research and testing in key areas on concepts related to the prototype.

Provided confidence

Gavin Ross, policy lead for digital identity in the Scottish Government, said: “Work on the prototype gave us confidence that users broadly understood that the concept of a credential that was reusable across services. Users were also familiar with two-factor authentication - e.g. via SMS - and there was support for creating and using an attribute store.

“Activity has since continued to explore these and other issues with users. The programme has been helped in that with the addition of people to our user centred design (UCD) workstream.

“They will help us work with a range of users to design a service that improves the way public service providers/organisations prove and assure information a user provides about themselves.”

He added that the unit is now beginning to work on the development of a beta service and preparing to speak with potential suppliers.

Image by Jeremy Keith, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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