2018: End of Year Letter

Dear Partners and Friends,

With 2018 coming to a close, we want to wish you a happy holiday season and take this opportunity to reflect on a year of pilot development and accelerating growth at ID2020.

Some highlights: we launched ID2020 supported projects in Thailand and Indonesia, accelerated the process for pilot development through the new pilot solicitation portal on our website, and announced the Alliance’s manifesto on “good” digital identity at our 2018 Summit. 
Looking ahead to 2019, we expect to see digital identity remain on center stage and for ID2020’s work to take on even more significance. We will be sharpening our focus on digital identity in four areas: 1) refugees, forcibly displaced, and stateless persons; 2) medical records, especially for maternal and child health; 3) financial inclusion; and, 4) in the context of cities. We are also excited to publicly launch ID2020’s technical certification mark early in the year, creating a widely recognized “seal of approval” that a technology fits within ID2020’s parameters for “good” digital identity. And we are excited to be working with our new Alliance partners, and partners we will be announcing in 2019, to drive meaningful, cross-sectoral alignment around privacy and user-centricity.
ID2020 at Davos

Digital identity was a hot topic at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland in January. We were thrilled to lead this conversation at a breakfast roundtable discussion, hosted with Microsoft, on “The Promises of Digital Identity” where we announced new alliance members including Microsoft, Mercy Corps, UN International Computing Center, and Hyperledger. The event was capped off by Microsoft’s announcement of its generous US$1M commitment to the Alliance.

We were proud to see ID2020’s perspective diffuse through the conversation at Davos. Under the banner of the World Economic Forum, leaders from government, business, international organizations and civil society issued a press release calling for multi-stakeholder collaboration to “pursue the opportunities that come with digital identities and ensure protection of rights in a sustainable and responsible manner.” Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, also announced that digital identity would be the thematic focus for its 2018 INFUSE program, which identifies innovations to improve vaccine delivery.

Pilot Project Launch

The first two ID2020 supported pilot projects were launched this year — one in Thailand and the other in Indonesia. These projects not only serve as proofs of concept but also extend critical services to vulnerable populations. It’s exciting to see digital identity already improving lives.

In Thailand, iRespond is working closely with the International Rescue Committee to provide digital identities to approximately 35,000 residents of the Mae La refugee camp, just over the border from Myanmar. This program leverages iris recognition technology and blockchain-based digital identity to enable access to improved, consistent healthcare through access to user-owned electronic medical records. In the future, the program will be expanded to include education and skills credentialing.

ID2020 is also supporting Everest, working in close partnership with the Indonesian National Team for the Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K) in the office of the Vice President of the Government of Indonesia, to streamline transfer of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) subsidies to beneficiaries by delivering them to a biometrically backed digital wallet, reducing financial leakage and modernizing subsidy delivery. The program uses a guardianship model to extend the benefits to individuals without a mobile phone and in the future will expand financial inclusion by facilitating access to banking services.

In October, the ID2020 program team visited both the Thai and Indonesian sites and we are proud to report that the projects are already having an impact, improving lives on the ground. These projects are the first step towards scaling user-centric, privacy-protecting digital identity globally.

ID2020 February Retreat

The expanded group of partners sprang into action at the ID2020 Alliance Retreat in February (graciously hosted by Grace Farms). During a packed two days, the Alliance partners began to flesh out the role of ID2020’s four advisory committees. In the months since, our Technical Advisory Committee has done excellent work to translate Alliance principles into technical requirements. The Program Delivery Advisory Committee has been integral to the development of our pilot projects. The Ecosystem and Advocacy Advisory Committee continues to help grow the Alliance and establish a plan for joint advocacy by Alliance partners. And last, but by no means least, the Ethics and Risk Advisory Committee has been crucial in defining what constitutes “good” digital identity.

The retreat also accelerated our process for soliciting and launching ID2020 supported pilots. We opened a second channel for project development: an online portal where organizations can submit project ideas and apply for Alliance support. The portal not only accelerates the pace of project development, it provides a mechanism for non-Alliance partners to put forward project ideas for funding. It also facilitates ID2020 partners providing in-kind resources to fill gaps or bolster proposed projects.

We recognize that the utility of digital identity programs must be measured both in terms of the direct impact for individuals and the potential of a project to contribute to a shared evidence base about portable, user-centric digital identity. As such, we have developed and implemented rigorous evaluation criteria to assess the interoperability of digital identities and the sustainability and replicability of our programs.

To further our ability to measure impact, we launched a project, working with IDInsight, to develop a common M&E framework, which is now woven into the design and implementation of each ID2020 supported project. Layered on top of one another, our rigorous project review processes and common M&E framework create a clearinghouse function for good digital identity projects and ensure those projects are designed for long-term impact, both directly and indirectly.

The “Good Identity” Summit and Manifesto

An ongoing focus for the year has been translating the principles of the ID2020 Alliance partners into clear parameters for “good” digital identity and building alignment around these principles. Following the Retreat, we worked with our partners and with the UNHCR Digital Identity team to clearly articulate our core beliefs in the form of a “manifesto”, which we formally launched at the third annual ID2020 Summit.

At the Summit, generously sponsored by UNHCR, OICT, ITU and the Consulate General of Denmark in New York, participants candidly discussed the very real risks of digital identity, if not implemented thoughtfully and carefully. It wasn’t an easy conversation — we didn’t think it would be — but it made clear that our partner organizations, and others in the digital identity space, are beginning to cohere around the key requisites for a “good” digital identity. The Summit re-emphasized the need for sustained, transparent multi-stakeholder engagement to ensure that digital identities are designed to be user-managed and privacy-protecting.

And Finally

This has been a year of growth, development, and action. We added impactful new partners — iRespond, Kiva, Simprints, FHI360 and IDEO.org, as well as Microsoft and the UNICC — and welcomed Kim Cameron and Blythe Masters to the ID2020 Board of Directors. We added industry-leading experts from a variety of sectors to our Advisory Committees. And our core team also grew to include Adam Cooper as Chief Architect and Inyang Ebong-Harstrup as Chief of Partnerships. Adam leads the team’s technical effort while Inyang is working to expand ID2020’s efforts in the Global South.

Next year at ID2020 will be all about scale. We plan to broaden the Alliance’s reach on all fronts, announcing the ID2020 “seal of approval” certification, adding new partners, developing and launching projects and increasing our footprint on the digital identity stage. We need your help improving lives through digital identity. Please join us in the conversation, the effort and the commitment.

In the meantime, we wish you a happy holiday season and a great start to 2019!

The ID2020 Team

Emily RutlandBlog