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Austroads spearheads digital identity initiative for driver licenses
Wed, 7th Feb 2024

Austroads, the trusted entity in license verification in Australia, is well-positioned to champion a novel initiative in the realm of digital identity. Having processed more than four million verifications monthly through the National Document Verification Service (DVS) for driver licenses, the organisation is set to extend its expertise into digital identity.

Since 2018, Austroads has been developing international digital credentialing standards in partnership with the Association of American Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and the Association of European Vehicle and Driver Registration Authorities (EReg). This global alliance has worked with vendors such as Google, Apple, Samsung, Thales, Idemia, HID, NEC, and Get Up Group to formulate the International Standard for digital driver licences. It aligns with the collective thrust across Australian states and territories to comply with this standard, guaranteeing digital driver licenses to ensure privacy protection, security, and global compatibility.

Austroads are now on the lookout for partnerships to build a Digital Trust Service based on ISO 18013-5. The initiative will initially centre on validating digital driver licenses and digital photo ID/proof of age credentials, responding to the ever-changing needs of a progressively digital society.

Dr Geoff Allan, Austroads Chief Executive, said, "Europe and North America have successfully invested in secure, privacy-preserving credential verification. Austroads intends to bring this technology to Australia to position us at the forefront of identity and road safety." Dr Allan acknowledged that driver's licenses are a central document Australians use to verify their identity. The harmonisation of digital driver licenses across all jurisdictions would be a vital step in aligning with the broader national digital identity agenda.

Austroads' Director of Digital Identity, Dr Kirsten McKillop, stated their objective is to "harmonise digital driver licenses and other credentials across Australia, enabling their use by any government agency or business at any time and place. A common standard is essential to ensure that the mutual recognition we have today for physical driver licenses extends seamlessly into the digital realm."

The team at Austroads has welcomed a new member, Christopher Goh, who has taken on the role of National Harmonisation Lead, Digital Identity. Goh led the development and pilot for the Queensland Digital License and will be fundamental to the success of this revolutionary initiative. He shared, "Our pilot aims to demonstrate the feasibility of verifying credentials across Australia and to coordinate tests with our international partners, ensuring international alignment."

Austroads' scope extends further than pioneering this transformative initiative. The vision is to participate in co-designing national policy in digital identification and to share the architecture and approaches with other government entities freely, contributing to the growth of knowledge and capability in Australia.

Moreover, the organisation plans to release an Expression of Interest in February 2024. This release aims to discover service providers with the needed experience for nationally harmonising digital driver licences, photo identities and associated digital identities. There will be a forum on 26th February that will allow interested vendors to raise questions and seek clarification on the direction, architecture and solution prerequisites for the next generation of digital credentialing services.