According to the Chief ICT Officer, Application Development Division, Department of Technology and Telecom, Lobzang Jamtsho, the Digital Identity will be similar to any other functional Identity document like CID card, Passports or driving license but in digital form to be used for digital and online transactions.
He said that the Digital identity will authenticate the owner safely and securely while availing online services.
“The digital identity project is still being conceptualized in terms of how it will be implemented. Since the privacy and security of our citizens are of utmost importance we are exploring all avenues to design the best, most secure and easy to use digital identity platform. It is a fine balance between security and ease of use and we intend to identify the most optimal solution,” he said.
The pilot project to collect biometrics was conducted from 6th April to 23rd April, 2021 from various citizens from different age groups and professions to see the collection challenges and different requirements.
In terms of resources, to test out, limited equipment was procured for the pilot. The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Department of Civil Registration and Census and De-Sung Office.
He said that regarding the other systems, client applications to interface with fingerprint scanners and cameras were developed and installed in all laptops used for biometric collection.
“During the pilot project, local government officials supported the management of citizens appointments based on their jurisdictional boundaries to ensure no overcrowding occurred. To also assist citizens who know how to use online systems especially in urban and semi urban areas, we developed an online booking system (crs.dit.gov.bt) for citizens to visit the collection booths at their convenience,” he said.
Although the scheduled pilot project was over by 23rd April, 2021 with expected results but due to the current COVID-19 situation in the country and specifically the growing concerns in the south, the Ministry deferred the nationwide rollout to begin following the second dose of the vaccination to ensure minimal risks to the public.
“In the meantime we are further working on optimizing the data collection process and also getting the equipment ready for the national rollout. Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, we are relooking into how to carry out the nationwide rollout but we are still collecting the biometric data in closed and controlled groups, for instance those people visiting RGoB agencies in the capital,” he said.
He added that since the initiative requires equipment to be imported from other countries like fingerprint scanners, cameras, laptops, lighting equipment, due to lockdown, the timely delivery of these equipment have been affected by the pandemic.
“Further, we have to ensure safety protocols are strictly followed which means the number of people we can cover is reduced which is leading to increased time and overhead cost for the project,” he added.
Digital Identity (ID) is one of the main results focused under the main Digital Drukyul Flagship Program of Nu 2.557 bn as the fund also covers results such as Institutionalizing e-Patient Information System, creating Digital Schools, Integrating e-business services (business licensing and Single window for trade), Land records, tax information etc. with the use of Digital ID. One can have bank transactions or even sign up contracts remotely to state a few components that the program encapsulates.