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What Are the Stages of Creating a Digital ID System?

– The Engine Room

The first output from a research project by The Engine Room is a typology that outlines the stages of digital ID system planning, development, implementation and maintenance as identified via their fields studies and desk research

Technology and data non-profit The Engine Room last year embarked on a project to explore the implementation of digital identity systems around the world and how they affect rights and freedoms.

In this highly anticipated first output from the project, they release an accessible typology which outlines the steps involved in creating a digital identity system for states and humanitarian actors. According to Laura Guzman's introduction to the toolkit:

There’s a need to design these systems carefully, considering aspects like existing power dynamics, the fluidity of identity, meaningful consent and more. In this context, late last year we began a research project exploring peoples’ lived experiences with digital identity systems.

The 14 page typology not only breaks down each stage but also provides useful sets of questions which make essential reading for anyone about to embark on creating a new system. The toolkit introduction explains:

"It is intended for civil society, activists and journalists aiming to build their understanding of these systems or to educate or advocate around them.

This tool will help you:

  • Identify what stage a digital ID system is in
  • Understand what to expect from each stage
  • Develop advocacy strategies to influence developers and decision makers."

[This typology] is intended for civil society, activists and journalists aiming to build their understanding of these systems or to educate or advocate around them

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The full report is available in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish.