The ID2020 Alliance has launched a new digital identity program at its annual summit in New York, in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, vaccine alliance Gavi, and new partners in government, academia, and humanitarian relief.
The program to leverage immunization as an opportunity to establish digital identity was unveiled by ID2020 in partnership with the Bangladesh Government’s Access to Information (a2i) Program, the Directorate General of Health Services, and Gavi, according to the announcement.
Digital identity is a computerized record of who a person is, stored in a registry. It is used, in this case, to keep track of who has received vaccination.
“We are implementing a forward-looking approach to digital identity that gives individuals control over their own personal information, while still building off existing systems and programs,” says Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor at a2i. “The Government of Bangladesh recognizes that the design of digital identity systems carries far-reaching implications for individuals’ access to services and livelihoods, and we are eager to pioneer this approach.”
Gavi CEO Seth Berkley says that 89 percent of children and adolescents who do not have identification live in countries where the organization is active. “We are enthusiastic about the potential impact of this program not just in Bangladesh, but as something we can replicate across Gavi-eligible countries, providing a viable route to closing the identity gap,” he says.
A partnership was also formed earlier this year between Gavi, NEC, and Simprints to use biometrics to improve vaccine coverage in developing nations.
“Digital ID is being defined and implemented today, and we recognize the importance of swift action to close the identity gap,” comments ID2020 Executive Director Dakota Gruener. “Now is the time for bold commitments to ensure that we respond both quickly and responsibly. We and our ID2020 Alliance partners, both present and future, are committed to rising to this challenge.”
ID2020 also announced new partnerships and provided progress reports on initiatives launched last year. Since last year’s summit, the ID2020 Alliance has been joined by the City of Austin, UC Berkeley’s CITRIS Policy Lab and Care USA.
The City of Austin, ID2020, and several other partners are working together with homeless people and the service providers who engage with them to develop a blockchain-enabled digital identity platform called MyPass to empower homeless people with their own identity data.
A pair of inaugural pilot programs launched last year in partnership with iRespond and Everest have each made progress, ID2020 says. The iRespond program has improved continuity of care for more than 3,000 refugees receiving treatment for chronic conditions from the International Rescue Committee in Thailand, according to the announcement, while Everest has assisted with the provision of access to critical energy subsidies and a range of additional services with secure and user-centric digital identities without relying on a smartphone.
This post was updated at 4:58pm on March 26, 2020 to clarify that the program is intended to allow people to receive vaccination and prove they have received it, not to track individuals, as claimed by some conspiracy theorists.