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How to improve public services and maintain ID security for users

by david.nunes

The Irish Public Service Card: Neil McEvoy, Managing Director at Consult Hyperion explains how a more integrated approach can overcome some of the barriers to delivering public, especially e-government services.

Governments around the world are looking for ways to improve the efficiency of public services and a common theme is the use of cards of one form or another to deliver citizen identification and authentication. Yet cards, by themselves, are not the entire solution to this problem: they need to be developed in the strategic context of an overall public sector identity management programme.

This seems obvious, but it can be very difficult to achieve and in many countries a piecemeal approach to the problem is a real barrier to achieving efficient delivery of public services (especially e-government services).

An example of a more integrated approach is that of the Irish Government, which has established the Standard Authentication Framework Environment (SAFE) programme to create an overall framework for identity management in the public sector. Recent work has included policy development and a detailed Public Service Card (PSC) definition. One key aspect of SAFE is to provide maximum control to the user over their personal data and ensure that only the minimum data required for a particular transaction is viewable by personnel involved in that transaction.

By developing the PSC, the Irish Government hopes to provide citizens with a convenient way of accessing public services, while also significantly facilitating the secure identification and authentication of users. In addition, the PSC should generate savings through economies of scale and through the use of shared services.

The Irish Department of social Protection (DSP) chose Consult Hyperion to help develop the functional specification for the PSC. Our experience, built up advising governments around the world, meant that we could help the DSP to understand quickly the key issues in the construction of a national scheme and to make informed decisions on how best to proceed with procurement and deployment.

The PSC functional specifications will support a wide variety of requirements, including secure offline and online authentication. All of these functions must, of course, be implemented within a secure environment with the appropriate confidentiality, integrity and availability controls. The PSC is to be used in a number of ways, beginning with simple functions such as concessionary travel entitlement for pensioners. This brings together our expertise in citizen cards and contactless ticketing.

Consult Hyperion has helped the DSP to choose a prime contractor to develop the system according to the specifications that we have developed, and we are now assisting during the implementation phase to ensure that the detailed design and implementation conforms to the specification.

The Irish Government’s approach to the Public Services Card is a practical, privacy-centric and cost-effective approach to delivering public services to those who are entitled. We believe that more countries will follow the Irish example, preferring an integrated rather than piecemeal approach to the provision of public services.

About Consult Hyperion

Consult Hyperion is an independent information technology consultancy that has spent over two decades advising leading organisations around the world. Consult Hyperion helps these organisations to reap real benefits from technological change in the field of secure electronic transactions ranging from retail payments to automated public services, and from transport ticketing to mobile banking.

Consult Hyperion is uniquely qualified to advise on turning great business ideas into working systems that can help customers to evaluate new business concepts, develop new products and services from specification to customer roll-out, and to certify complex systems responsible for handling people’s money.

The four main sectors the company operates in, worldwide, are; financial services, including card schemes, banks, retailers and others; telecommunications and media; and the public sector, including central governments and transportation authorities.

Press Contact:

Andrew Ball / Chaz Brooks

Chazbrooks Communications
Tel: +44 (0)1483 537 890
email: andrewb@chazb.com

Company Contact:
Gloria Benson
Consult Hyperion
Tel: +44 (0)1483 301793
email: gloria.benson@chyp.com

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