This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
ID2020 is a public-private partnership dedicated to improving lives through private and user-controlled digital identity. Today, over 1 billion people live without any form of legal ID, which can leave them economically marginalized and robbed of the opportunity for active citizenship. ID2020 is setting technical standards and launching pilot projects aimed at finding scalable digital identity solutions for world's most vulnerable populations, particularly refugees and stateless persons.
According to the World Bank, 1.1 billion people worldwide lack any form of officially recognized identity. The majority are children, and tens of millions are refugees, forcibly displaced, or stateless persons. A lack of legal identity leads to a cascade of consequences over an individual's life. Without identity, it is often impossible to access health care, open a bank account, receive an education, or vote. Lack of identity also puts individuals at greater risk for displacement and human trafficking. And for the public and private organizations mandated to serve these populations, inaccurate population data makes it exceedingly difficult to broadly and accurately deliver the most basic of human services.
Succinctly put, ID2020 believes that: (A) identity is a fundamental and universal human right; (B) all people should have the capacity to assert and prove their identity, equally and free from discrimination, and without reliance on any single government or institution; and (C) all people should have control over their own digital identities, including how personal data is collected, used, and shared. We are acutely aware that digital identity carries significant risk if not thoughtfully designed and carefully implemented. The right to privacy and security are inviolable principles that underpin ID2020’s mission and ethos.
ID2020’s initial pilot phase will test a variety of digital identity interventions, all of which adhere to our stringent set of technical requirements and guiding ethical principles. The data from these pilots will generate the robust evidence base required to accurately assess the impact of digital identity on people's lives, and identify the most effective and efficient pathways to scale, so as to meet the needs of the 1.1 billion who are currently living without any form of legal identity.
Two initial pilots will launch in 2018. The first will be led by Alliance partner iRespond, and will be conducted in close partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The pilot will offer blockchain-based digital identification, linked to individual users through iris recognition, for refugees accessing the IRC’s services in the Mae La Camp in Thailand. Initially, these digital identities will enable the recipients to access improved, consistent healthcare within the camp through an accurate and secure electronic medical record. In the future, the same system may electronically document both educational attainment and professional skills to aid with employment opportunities.
The second 2018 pilot project will be led by Everest working in close partnership with The Indonesian National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K) in the office of the Vice President of the Government of Indonesia. The pilot will facilitate the transfer of liquid propane gas (LPG) subsidies by delivering them to a biometrically validated digital wallet over a transparent and low cost blockchain. The goal of the pilot is to modernize delivery, reduce financial leakage, and enable banking services through financial inclusion. Addressing the current problems of delivery inefficiencies and lack of transparency will provide economically disadvantaged individuals greater access to energy subsidies.
Future pilots projects, currently in development, will include vaccination delivery and childhood health records, increased financial inclusion through the provision of a verifiable credit history, refugee resettlement, humanitarian passports, among other use cases. In order to ensure continued implementation of these high-impact digital identity projects, the ID2020 Alliance continues to raise a pool of funds and channel those funds towards high-impact programs that meet our core technical and ethical criteria. By driving this type of coordinated approach, on both the technical level and by providing sustainable financing for interoperable identity systems, our operating and governance model supports both our initial pilot phase, currently in progress, and scaled-up implementation beyond 2020.
We firmly believe that scaling to reach the 1.1 billion currently living without identity is not only technically feasible, but eminently possible. One need only point to several existing and ongoing digital identity initiatives -- most notably India’s Aadhaar program -- to see how this is possible. India's Aadhaar program has enrolled 1.2 billion Indian residents since its launch in 2009, streamlining government service delivery, enabling broader financial inclusion through eKYC, and proving that implementation at massive scale is indeed possible. However, Aadhaar (like many other programs) clearly does not go far enough to protect individual privacy or data ownership. The risks inherent to the Aadhaar approach are, from ID2020's technical and ethical perspectives, unacceptable. That is where our innovation -- driving user-centric, privacy-ensuring digital identity -- is necessary.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Identity is a prerequisite for financial inclusion, universal healthcare, equal access to education, and gender equality. As such, perhaps no other development intervention offers the same leverage to create systemic change in global development outcomes.
Yet, the robust evidence base needed to accurately assess how, why, and in what manner digital identity can improve lives simply does not exist. ID2020's integrated approach to technical development, pilot programs, and monitoring, evaluation, and learning, are all critical to amassing the information necessary to conduct methodologically robust analysis of digital identity interventions, find the best pathways to scale, and inform policy efforts going forward.
Our partners are working together to develop these technical and ethical standards, fund and implement pilots that are rigorously monitored, and pool innovation, building broad confidence in outcomes and opening up opportunities to rapidly disseminate learnings.
What is the current status of your innovation?
As of this date of submission in 2018, both of our first two pilot projects are approved by our board and agreed to by all pilot partners, and are poised to launch within the next few months. Several other pilot projects are currently in various stages of development. We anticipate that two additional pilots will the approved prior to end end of Q4 2018, with expected launch dates in early 2019.
Collaborations & Partnerships
ID2020’s current partners include Accenture and Microsoft on the private sector side, and FHI360, Gavi, Hyperledger, iRespond, Kiva, Mercy Corps, Simprints, UNHCR, and UN-ICC on the public sector end. Alliance partners each come to the table with their own relevant and essential expertise. Microsoft, for example, alone manages 1 billion digital identities, while UNHCR has a international legal mandate to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
All human beings are potential beneficiaries when it comes to digital identity. Additionally, there is great utility for organizations working to address poverty, hunger, global health, education, and all other global challenges. Organizations are often stymied because they do not know how many people they are trying to serve, nor can they accurately measure progress. Digital identity alone cannot solve these issues, but it can facilitate accurate population data and amplify ongoing work.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
As our pilots are still in progress, results are not yet available. However, we have several broad, expected outcome measures for all ID2020 pilot projects, which will be closely monitored. At least five broad "buckets" of outcomes will be assessed across all pilots, including: (1) the feasibility of broad adoption; (2) success of enrollment for intended beneficiaries; (3) ensuring that the highest level of privacy standards are met; (4) access of the beneficiaries to the intended services; and (5) user-centricity -- that is, the extent to which users understand the consent process, how their data will be used, and their own control over that data.
Challenges and Failures
One key challenge for ID2020's overall pilot phase was methodological in nature. As ID2020 is piloting a variety of different digital identity solutions, in a number of different geographical jurisdictions, focused on a host of different target populations, we are essentially comparing apples to oranges. This initially posed some methodological hurdles in terms of planning for data gathering and cross-pilot impact assessment. However, through the development and adoption of a robust monitoring, evaluation, and learning framework across all ID2020 pilot partners, we believe that this challenge has been effectively managed.
Conditions for Success
One key criteria for success will be support (tacit or explicit) from host governments and civil society organizations. This is not only essential for the successful roll-out of our current pilot projects, but will be even more necessary when attempting to scale. Due to the fact that ID2020 is focusing our pilot phase on the world's most vulnerable populations, this involves working in higher-risk, more volatile political environments. Careful risk assessment and due diligence can mitigate some of these risks, but ultimately developing good working relationships on the ground between our pilot partners and governmental and NGO actors will be critical to the success of ID2020's initial pilot phase.
Assessing the potential for replication, scale, and sustainability is central to the overall model of ID2020's initial pilot phase and to our monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) framework. For example, one key metric we will be tracking in all our pilot projects is the cost-benefit ratio. Gathering data on a pilot’s projected cost per enrolled user will allow ID2020 to compare both cost-benefit ratios across pilots, as well as assess the financial sustainability of each pilot long-term.
ID2020's pilot phase was developed out of critical lessons learned from existing digital identity programs globally. We are highly cognizant of the fact that digital identity brings with it significant risks of data misuse and abuse, particularly when systems are designed as large, centralized databases. India's Aadhar program, for example, has experienced massive data leaks and security breaches.
We believe there is a better way. Our main lessons taken from existing programs is that: (1) identity needs to be approached from a human rights first perspective -- digital identity is not just a service we are providing, but the capacity to assert a fundamental human right. (2) Everyone must have control over their own digital identities, including how their personal data is collected, used, and shared. And (3) we need broad agreement on principles, technical design patterns, and interoperability standards in order for user-controlled digital identities to be trusted and recognized. But this is not something that will emerge spontaneously. To do this, we need sustained and transparent collaboration aligned around these shared principles. That is what ID2020 has been developed, and is mandated, to do.