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Qld licences go digital

by Nathan Stormont •
Free resource

Queensland has gone to market for vendor partners to help trial a digital driver’s licence by the end of 2019, following in the footsteps of neighbouring states New South Wales and South Australia.

Recognising that a driver’s licence is now used “for more than just driving”, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) is seeking partners to develop “a convenient, safer, and smarter” way to store identity cards via mobile devices instead of having to carry a physical card.

The Digital Wallet is TMR’s vision of “[a] single integrated transport network accessible to everyone”; a program underpinned “by the principles of faster, cheaper, better, safer outcomes” involving simplified processes, improved customer experiences, and practical and sustainable withdrawals from legacy platforms.

Queensland’s new digital licence will offer users security, control, convenience, and access to real-time changes to licence information. Users of the Digital Wallet will be able to update their details immediately, receive notifications - including notifications that their licence is soon to expire, and control what information from the wallet is shared with others.

To implement the Digital Wallet, TMR wants to engage vendors who could provide two key services: developing the Digital Wallet app and creating the enabling platforms and technology to link credentials stored in the Digital Wallet app to TMR and other existing agencies’ services.

These motivations mirror key priorities in TMR’s Digital Strategic Plan 2016-2020, which calls for the agency to be “digital by default to empower the digital customer anywhere, anytime” and sets out TMR’s goals of innovation and experimentation.

The Queensland Government hopes that the app will allow users both to manage their credentials and be used to pay for services and other products. Concurrently, the enabling technology behind the app will help agencies “transition its legacy platforms to support new ways of thinking.”

TMR currently has a $5.36 million contract with the Citadel Group for managed services, including HPE RM8 software involved in the management of documents and records, through to 2029. Digital records management systems are one of the legacy platforms which may be overhauled to ensure that agencies, users, and other stakeholders can readily and easily access and manage the information stored in the Digital Wallet.

According to Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey, the Digital Wallet initiative “aligns with the community’s growing preference to have a digital option for how they manage their affairs, including government transactions.” While he noted that physical licences would not be phased out, Mr. Bailey stressed that unlike a physical driver’s licence, “the digital wallet gives you control about how much information you allow a third party to see, copy and retain.”

Other jurisdictions

Queensland is one of several Australian jurisdictions intending to trial a digital driver’s licence, following the examples set by South Australia and NSW. Western Australia’s (WA) Chief Information Officer has also signaled that WA might also follow the example set by the eastern states.

In 2017, South Australia became the first Australian state to roll out digital licences. In October 2017, digital SA driver’s licences became available to all South Australian drivers via the SA Government’s mySA GOV app, developed in partnership with local digital agency Appvation.

The SA digital licence offers a range of security and antifraud features. For example, the digital licence generates a one-time, 30 second barcode to restrict the likelihood a licence is fake, while the app’s “Shake to Animate” feature displays the current time and date when the phone is shaken to ensure that the licence photo is not a screenshot.

The contract to develop the pilot digital licence in SA went to a local vendor, Appvation, who was responsible for inventing the “Shake to Animate” feature of the app. According to a report issued by SA’s Auditor-General, the cost of developing the app was $1.919 million across 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, with the pilot costing under $200,000.

Aiming to remove the need for customers to visit service centres and the postal costs associated with mailing physical licences to drivers, NSW has also introduced an electronic driver’s licence, which will also be introduced across the state in 2019. In late 2017, a pilot of the digital licence commenced in the regional city of Dubbo, with the program expected to expand to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs in November 2018.

However, the NSW digital licence trial was not without its problems. Despite legislation passed by the NSW Parliament permitting motorists to produce their digital licence during traffic stops, trials in Dubbo showed that police did not always accept the digital licences, with 17 per cent of participants expressing dissatisfaction over the lack of police acceptance of their electronic driving permit.

Western Australia has also hinted its intentions to introduce a digital licence system. In April 2016, former Chief Information Officer Giles Nunis pitched “digital IDs” as part of the state’s GovNext-ICT, with the hope that driver’s licences could adopt additional digital functions including accessing government services and medical records. However, following Mr Nunis’s resignation as Chief Information Officer in February, WA has seemingly abandoned this pursuit.

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