This article is part of our series on IDLab 2.0’s five impact areas. We have identified these impact areas based on ongoing discussions with leading experts in the digital identity and credential community. Each of these areas represent a point of focus that requires additional development within the digital identity ecosystem in order to strengthen cybersecurity and advance safe, seamless and secure digital credentials as a whole. IDLab facilitates co-created projects with individuals and organizations that we believe will have maximum impact.
What do we mean by a better understanding of digital identity and credentials?
Imagine a systematic and reliable way to prove: the origin of products in a supply chain, the authenticity of research data or digital content, the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions, or even the chain of custody of military assets. These aren’t distant aspirations, but instead they are attainable practical solutions empowered by decentralized digital credentials that can reinforce trust in Canadians’ day-to-day lives and interactions.
However, advancements in digital identity and credentials of late have been hampered by concerns, fears, misinformation and disinformation relating to how digital identity and credentials are used, their impact on privacy and the potential for increased corporate and government surveillance.
Our impact area, Understanding, seeks to be proactive in addressing concerns of the end-users, and creating a digital ecosystem that is, and remains, a trusted and inclusive space for all. Through Understanding we aim to enable individuals, organizations, and governments to navigate both a physical and digital landscape with confidence, ensuring that interactions are private, secure, trustworthy, and beneficial for all. It involves knowing about the significance of credentials in verifying one’s identity in digital transactions and interactions, and the benefits it provides in terms of preserving privacy, enhancing cybersecurity, promoting accessibility, and protection against identity theft and fraud.
Why is a better understanding of digital identity and credentials important?
This technology, the way it’s implemented, and the supporting foundations and structures surrounding it, solve real-world problems. While digital credentials can be an extension – a digital representation – of an existing physical identification document, like a traditional driver’s licence, many credentials can also be issued directly in their digital format, skipping the physical format altogether. They can represent more than just individuals. They can be the secure digital representation of a licence, permit or university certificate. They can be used to identify entities such as an organization, or even a device such as a refrigerator in an internet of things (IoT) network.
Digital identity and credentials are a solution for many people who experience a range of service access barriers, such as: a lack of personal transportation, shift work schedules (often multiple) that don’t allow for service access between 8AM-5PM, frequently lost physical IDs, English as a second language, and/or those experiencing physical changes during the course of a gender transition.
Digital identity and credentials also make everyday transactions quicker and more secure as individuals and businesses alike will be able to reduce their reliance on sharing copies of important documents, which can easily be faked, or needing to take the extra time and cost to get a copy notarized. With a digital identity or credential the person or business receiving the requested document can be certain that it is a true representation and has not been tampered with.
Understanding and appreciating the ecosystem of stakeholders and collaborators that contribute to strengthening cybersecurity by advancing safe, seamless and secure digital credentials is important. In essence, we are talking about transformative tools that offer a wide range of benefits, from heightened security and privacy to streamlined processes and new avenues for innovation. With a deeper understanding of the underlying principles and technology, the potential to positively transform various aspects of our day-to-day lives becomes increasingly evident.
Previous and ongoing IDLab work aligned with this impact area
At the heart of IDLab initiatives lies a mission to bridge this understanding gap. Misconceptions can hinder adoption; after all, you’re unlikely to embrace something you don’t fully grasp. See how IDLab clarifies these misconceptions with our VP of Program Delivery and Government Relations, Cosanna Preston-Idedia, doing a deep dive on misinformation and disinformation in digital identity and credentials.
IDLab recognizes the importance of building social acceptance, fostering interest, and promoting adoption. The focus extends to capacity-building, encouraging active participation as issuers, verifiers, wallet providers, holders, and other stakeholders in the digital identity ecosystem. For more information on what it takes to optimize the use of digital identity and credentials, see IDLab’s Learning Series Part 4 – Barriers to Adoption.
IDLab’s commitment to education and engagement drives an evolution in the understanding of digital identity and credentials, clarifying misconceptions, and paving the way for a future where the potential of these technologies isn’t just understood, but embraced.
Interested in exploring this impact area with us?
Here’s a few ways to get started:
- Review our Active and Completed projects to see if there is an ongoing project you’d like to get involved in.
- Propose a new project. Start by learning more about our co-created projects.
- Become a funder of this impact area.
IDLab is committed to strengthening cybersecurity by advancing safe and seamless digital credentials. We explore impact areas to promote a better understanding of digital identity, ensure seamless interoperability and facilitate community growth.