Lockdown impacts nationwide biometric data collection

Meanwhile, 99,824- individual biometric has been collected as of now

According to the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) under the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), the nationwide biometric data collection for the National Digital Identity project (NDI), underway in 11 dzongkhags from 13 October 2021, has been hampered as a result of the country’s unexpected lockdown.

As of 4 January 2022, a total of 99,824 individuals’ biometric details were collected.

The Head of Application Management Division under DITT, Sonam Penjor, said that the data collection is expected to be completed in one and half years’ time, but the progress has been hampered owing to the country’s unexpected lockdown.

He stated that the teams are still on the ground, and the ministry is closely monitoring the situation.  On the solution development for NDI, the work is progressing well.

The biometric data of all Bhutanese citizens aged eight years and above are taken for NDI. The nationwide biometric data collection rollout started in Bumthang, Chukha, Gasa, Haa, Mongar, Pemagatshel, Punakha, Thimphu, Trashigang, Wangdue Phodrang and Zhemgang.

For the project, 130 DeSuups are deployed in teams of 9 to 12 to each of the dzongkhags. They are supported by the Dzongkhag Civil Registration and Census officers who are the dzongkhag coordinator for their respective dzongkhags.

The biometric data acquired as part of this study will help to reinforce the identity database and root of trust, and make it more suitable for remote on boarding of digital identities.

According to DIIT, the NDI will authenticate and secure safety for individuals availing themselves of online services.

Unlike face-to-face service delivery, Internet services do not allow the service provider and the customer to see each other, making offering online services incredibly difficult because the applicant’s identity cannot be verified.

The biometric data collected as part of this program will allow individuals to link their identities to their digital avatars, allowing individual to securely authenticate applicants identities, which will open up a slew of new possibilities on how the government can provide services to citizens.

The Biometric Data collection was initiated in collaboration with DIIT, Civil Registration and Census, Department of Immigration and De-Suung Office for NDI.

Digital Identity is one of the main results focused under the main Digital Drukyul Flagship Program of Nu 2.557 billion, as the fund also covers the institutionalizing e-Patient information system, creating digital schools, integrating e-Business services (business licensing and single window for trade), land records, tax information, among other, 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.

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