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How Digital Identity is Expanding with COVID-19 Digital Response

By Guest Writer on July 29, 2020

digital identity covid-19

The Coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown, has driven a huge rise in remote working. Almost overnight, development organisations who might have previously delayed digital transformation projects found themselves being forced to bring roadmaps forward, or develop entirely new roadmaps where none existed before.

Staff and volunteers suddenly found themselves needing secure ways to log into remote systems, while others suddenly found themselves on the frontlines of their local COVID community response without any easy way of verifying who they were. New online communities have sprung up with little or no established way of people being able to verify the identity of members.

Digital identities, and the concept of verified credentials, have matured rapidly in a very short space of time with the onset of COVID-19 Digital Response. At Yoti, We’re finding three key areas where they are providing real value to organisations.

Digital Identity Cards

Frontline health workers in particular have found themselves unable to prove without doubt that they work for an organisation supporting communities during the pandemic. Many of the earlier problems were caused by difficulties getting physical ID cards out to the thousands of people who needed them given stringent lockdown restrictions. Digital ID cards obviously don’t suffer from this kind of delivery challenge given they can be issued directly to a phone.

Physical ID cards have also long been a target for fraudsters with people either buying or creating them in order to get access to dedicated health worker shopping hours, or special discounts. Organised gangs have also made use of fake ID cards to gain access to people’s homes, claiming to represent charities and other organisations working in the area to support vulnerable groups.

Secure, verified digital identities are one answer to the problem. For example, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) now has a staff ID card which sits alongside verified digital identities of staff. ID cards can include full names, job titles, locations, expiry dates and employee reference numbers – all verified and securely held on a smartphone. There is already interest among development organisations working with displaced populations in issuing them with secure, verified digital identities as part of efforts to help people rebuild their lives.

Verified Identity Credentials

Like with digital ID cards, there is a hunger within organisations to be able to issue their own verified credentials to staff, volunteers, or customers’ digital identities. Development organisations, for example, might want to issue, update and revoke verified credentials to an individual’s ID – and these could be staff, or recipients of a programme. Verified credentials might include:

  • A medical test result
  • Training certificates
  • Database checks
  • A membership (or customer) number, or similar
  • Professional awards
  • Proof of insurance
  • Other authorisations or qualifications the person may hold

Staff (or recipients) can view, but not edit or delete the details, and can securely share these verified details with other key workers or any other person or organisation.

In short, the ability to add verified credentials to an already established digital identity opens up all sorts of new possibilities, including the examples given above.

Coronavirus Test Results

Linking a COVID-19 test result to a digital identity is a secure, tamperproof method of proving health credentials. Digital identity apps such as Yoti equip citizens with a digital certificate that they can present on their phone. Through the app, users can consent to sharing their test result with a third party with a simple tap of a button or scan of a QR code.

Not only does this system empower the individual with the ability to share their health information but credentials can also be updated or revoked as scientific knowledge of the virus advances.

Not surprisingly, there has been significant interest in combining accurate COVID-19 tests with secure, tamper-proof digital identity platforms, particularly in the health, travel and sport sectors. Development organisations may also benefit by allowing staff on the frontline of COVID-19 community responses to be regularly tested and cleared ahead of visiting vulnerable groups, for example.

Yoti Digital ID Solution

If any of these solutions are useful to your organisation as you respond to the Coronavirus pandemic among your own communities, as part of our COVID Pledge we are offering the majority of our services for free.

By Ken Banks, Head of Social Purpose at Yoti

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One Comment to “How Digital Identity is Expanding with COVID-19 Digital Response”

  1. Htoon Htoon says:

    Nobel and very high innovation for human beings in the world. May God bless you.