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RealMe: The government's answer to digital natives

By Catherine Knowles, Thu 23 Oct 14
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Westcon Imagine 2014 - Richard Foy's keynote speech at the Westcon Imagine 2014 event focused on how the government is responding to an increasingly digital world.

Foy, general manager of digital transformation, Department of Internal Affairs, spoke about how, in a world that's increasingly connected on digital platforms, it is important for the government to think of the 'customer of the future'.

He says children of today are 100 percent pure digital native citizens, connected 24/7, 365. It has become an expectation that the internet can be used as a tool for multiple services.

For instance, it is the expectation that public services are available online, with transactions easily completed with a one click, one swipe and one tap system. No longer should individuals have to spend hours on hold at call centres, or fill out screeds of paper forms only to find out they were the wrong ones.

Foy says the Department of Internal Affairs needs to challenge the gap between the government and the citizen, so these two parties have a closer, more mutually beneficial relationship.

One way this can happen is if the focus shifts from services to the customer, creating a 'New Zealander centric' approach, says Foy. This means instead of dealing with things such as drivers licences, NCEA, passports and marriage certificates separately with different agencies, these documents can be compiled and each citizen can receive quantitive customer services.

Foy says the services should be based on meaningful life services. For instance, when you have a child you can sort out the birth certificate, parental leave, public health services and more at once.

In order for this to be possible, Foy says there needs to be a 3D approach - digital by choice, digital by design and digital by default. A seamless, secure, fully integrated service needs to be available.

For this to work, government needs to work together and collaborate, he says. The government needs to move from siloed organisations to a collective force and a more horizontal plan, where services are integrated.

In his speech, Foy identified three key aspects of digital services: security, trust and privacy. He acknowledged how RealMe, a secure login system for any government service, brings together each of these.

RealMe is used with a unique identity, as opposed to a unique identifier such as a passport or IRD number that can be shared between agencies.

Individuals validate their account once, at a physical location such as a post office, and use their unique identity to login and control their own information. It's a way for citizens to create and work from verified accounts.

This is a multi-sided market platform that's very personal and brings together information small data agencies already hold about you, to make it easier to share information for future documents, such as student loan applications. It also puts the individual in control, says Foy, as everyone has the ability to control how much information is shared and when it's shared.

Already RealMe exists as a verified and unverified login account for a range of government organisations, including Work and Income, StudyLink and the Electoral Commission. The government is trying to get people involved in this new way of using agencies websites by offering prizes to those who get verified. Find out more about RealMe here.

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