The new digital national identification card will have a mobile version, Minister of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology Davidson Ishmael said on Tuesday, as he also disclosed that Government is seeking to partner with a leading cyber security company to ensure its IT systems are secure.
Addressing the opening of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) two-day digital conference, held under the theme Adapt and Change: We Must!, he said that in addition to replacing the existing laminated card with the digital National Trident ID card, the Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Ministry of Industry, Innovation, Science and Technology propose a digital mobile identity.
“That will be issued as an app that will be downloaded on the mobile phone of the bearer of the ID card,” he said.
“The mobile version of the cardholder’s national ID will be linked to a secure infrastructure and trust services that facilitate identification and authentication within the digital environment. In addition to the facilitation of online transactions, the digital mobile ID will be able to be used for in-person verification as well. The new ID will be a single source of identification that has been approved by the Government of Barbados.”
Ishmael gave the assurance that while cyber security risks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, the Government was putting systems in place to ensure all its systems remain secure.
Just a month ago, Government was forced to shut down its IT platform after a malware attack.
“We must ensure that we move forward in a way that is secure, deters criminal behaviour, and which maintains our commitment to individual’s privacy. In this context, I wish to inform that my Government has formally established a cyber security working group, comprising of professionals who are employed across multiple facets of the private sector in the area of cyber security,” said Ishmael.
“Additionally, Government is at the advanced stages of creating a strategic partnership with one of the leading cyber security companies in the world, and we are taking this step for the purposes of defence . . . . Additionally, Government is moving full steam ahead with implementing its first national cyber security strategy and other applicable strategic legislative instruments. A multi-stakeholder approach is being used in the development and to conceptualise the course of the security needs of Barbados at the national level.”
Minister Ishmael said another key initiative on the agenda was the establishment of a digitisation centre at Vaucluse, St Thomas, which he said “continues to be the focal point for the Government’s digitisation efforts.
“At its height, this programme will see an investment in the improvement and modernisation of the operations of the public service to the tune of US$40 million,” he said.
In relation to the transformation of Bridgetown into a ‘smart city’, Ishmael said it will include the implementation of smart services such as computer-controlled parking, environmental monitoring and traffic management, as well as free Internet access and mobile guide for tourists..
“This is only the beginning. My Government intends to chart the direction for the total transformation of Government in how we work, how we organise ourselves and how we serve our citizens. It is arguably one of the most ambitious programmes of change of any government anywhere in the world,” the Minister said.
Overall, Ishamael said, Barbados’ digital transformation is taking shape and will improve doing business on the island once completed.
“This drive towards a strategic, effective, and efficient adaptation and deployment of technological solutions will result in change, especially within the public sector where various processes will be deconstructed and reconstructed to foster greater efficiency, to enhance service delivery and overall to strengthen public sector skills,” he.
He pointed out that his Ministry has already started to deliver on some of the promised digital reforms, as evident by the EZPay+ platform that facilitates online payment to various government agencies and departments, and the recent rollout of an online platform for the acquisition of liquor licences. (MM)