Safeguarding Global Identities Through Mobile Tech

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SEATTLE, Washington — Many people in developing countries live under the radar because they are not registered on paper for important documents like birth and marriage. Unregistered children are so common that there is no record of one in three children under five. Even if a child was to be registered, many do not have proof in the form of birth certificates. Mobile tech can safeguard global identities by introducing an easier way of keeping track of everyone. Several countries are transitioning to mobile birth registration and records.

Singapore is introducing global ID cards and is working on expanding its use of technology to biometrics like fingerprints to login to services. It is also using public and private key encryption to create digital identities. This enables people to securely send documents such as birth certificates, that are encrypted using the public key. To decrypt the file after it reaches its intended destination, one must use the private key. The country also wants to provide open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to allow other businesses to incorporate these digital identity features into their services.  

There are a handful of other organizations that are also creating innovative designs and inventions that can be used in developing countries to safeguard global identities.

MyChild (Smart Paper)

MyChild is a program that helps transition from paper to digital. It takes the form of a paper booklet in which health professionals record important information about a child’s health. Using Smart Paper Technology, each booklet has its own identification number and scannable tear-out slips. This gives each child a unique digital record and global identity. More than 95,000 infants in Gambia, Uganda, and Afghanistan have been registered thanks to MyChild.

The data outputs of MyChild include all required HMIS/LMIS reports, digitized handwritten data, SMS reminders to patients for appointments and follow-up lists. It also sends calculated supply needs based on individual consumption rates and SMS updates to health workers for their key performance indicators. WHO data reports that Smart Paper Technology generates data with 99 percent accuracy. This helps reduce the administration time for frontline health workers by at least 60 percent for each fully-immunized child.

Khushi Baby

Similar to Smart Paper, Khushi Baby provides a unique ID number for each child it helps. Instead of information being recorded on paper, it is stored on a necklace that fits any child. The necklace has a “near-field communication chip” that can be scanned by community health workers using a mobile phone. This way a child’s digital health records can be quickly accessed and updated. It can be used even without cell coverage. It has been tested in 100 villages in Rajasthan, India. It has been able to track the vaccinations of more than 15,000 children.

Not only does the necklace store data it also helps parents in developing countries understand the importance of antenatal care and vaccination updates. Khushi Baby eases communication between the health workers and families while also raising awareness of the importance of vaccination in rural communities. It calls parents several days before a vaccine camp is scheduled to arrive in their village and provides information about the importance of vaccination.

 ID2020: Digital Identity

Unlike the others on this list, ID2020 is both an invention and an awareness organization. It uses its reach to coordinate funding for high-impact projects. It is also exploring the usage of blockchain technology. ID2020 has developed a unique digital identity application, using blockchain and biometrics. First, someone registers their fingerprints, voice, face or iris through an enrollment station. Several steps follow to create a unique identifier using multiple security protocols. That identifier is then recorded on the blockchain and securely linked to all data.

This app lets a person create their own public and private keys that act as a sort of digital signature when they send their information over to others. ID2020 is also uniting diverse partners like NGOs, governments and enterprises with the sole interest of providing an identity to those who lack one. ID2020 uses their shared goal to create a pathway towards the implementation of identity technology. 

Many people make up the populations in developing countries, but not all of them are officially recognized. To address and solve this problem, organizations like ID2020, Khushi Baby and MyChild are working to create new ways to document and preserve official records. Technology is quickly working towards safeguarding all global identities. Hopefully, soon everyone will have an identity to call their own.

Nyssa Jordan
Photo: Flickr
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