Scottish Government launches project to create single online identity verification service

Written by Sam Trendall on 20 December 2017 in News

The project aims to create a single system for members of the public to prove their identity online

Scottish Government building, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh - Image credit: Scottish Government Flickr

The Scottish Government has begun work on building an online identity assurance service that can be used by the public sector across Scotland.

The aim is to have a single sign-in for members of the public to prove their identity online which can be used by different public bodies, making it simpler and faster to access public services.

The project – which mirrors the UK Government Digital Service’s creation of the Verify platform – was launched earlier this month, and is currently in the ‘pre-discovery’ phase.

This initial phase sees the Scottish Government look for appropriate commercial partners to work with.

It will also conduct research into similar projects in other countries, establish a broad plan for project management and hold discussions with ministers and other stakeholders, as well as industry experts. 

A ‘discovery’ phase will kick off in January, which will “aim to identify the problem that an online identity assurance solution might address”, according to the Scottish Government’s programme plan.

This phase will also encompass a mission “to identify the technical options for identity assurance, including [how they] fit with the service provider landscape”.

As part of this, the Scottish Government will consider whether it could deploy a modified version of its existing myaccount online platform for accessing public services or something built on GDS Verify.

It will also look at whether other emerging technologies could provide the best option.

“At the end of the discovery project, we [will] seek to identify a plan and resources for the next stage for the delivery of the overall online identity assurance programme,” the document says.

Prior to progressing into an alpha-stage service – a phase which is scheduled to begin in April and last for between six and nine months – the project will require additional funding.

A total of £150,000 has been committed by the 2017/18 data, statistics and outcomes budget of the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate.

This is expected to fund the project through to the end of the discovery phase but, “to continue past discovery, further funding would need to be identified” somewhere within the Scottish Government’s 2018/19 budget.

Assuming this hurdle is successfully negotiated, the launch of a beta service is pencilled in for October 2018, or shortly thereafter.

The project will be overseen by a programme board, led by the Scottish Government’s director of digital Colin Cook.

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