Acting Chief Technical Director at the Office of the Prime Minister, Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, says the implementation of the National Identification System (NIDS) is important, as it will become the primary source for identity assurance, authentication and verification of Jamaican nationals.
She said it will improve the governance and management of social, economic and security programmes.
“The National Identification System project is going to be allowing for all of us to have a national ID… . We think we have one now, as people refer particularly to the voters’ ID as a national ID but it is not,” Ms. Lynch-Stewart pointed out to JISNews.
She noted that NIDS will capture biometric data, such as fingerprint, footprint, signature and/or facial photographs, which other forms of verification currently being used do not entail.
She explained that while a driver’s licence has a photograph, there is no biometric information attached, that is, no fingerprint or any other unique attribute.
In the case of the passport, she pointed out that it was recently that the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency introduced facial recognition, while, in relation to the voters’ ID, the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) does not have an identity-verification process.
“The vision, therefore, is to give each of us a unique, trusted identity, and the only way it can be unique and verifiable is if there is a biometric attached… so it (National ID) will have a photograph and biometric of a fingerprint, and each person will have one ID to do business with the Government in the future,” she stressed.
Reiterating the value and significance of a national identification, Department Head, Data Management, eGov Jamaica Limited, Walt Brown, told JIS News that under the system, which will have anti-fraud features, every Jamaican will have a unique
nine-digit identification number.
“If you look across the population of persons in Jamaica, you will find that a significant proportion of the population does not have any form of ID, and the existing IDs are all related to specific activities and operations within the country. So, if you are not interested in travelling, doing business with the tax office or voting, you will find yourself without an ID,” Mr. Brown noted.
“So, the country essentially needs some form of identification for its citizens regardless of their interest in what the current cards or IDs allow. We need to be able to identify you and to know that you are a citizen of this country, so this ID is indispensable at this time,” he further explained.
Mr. Brown said that as NIDS is developed, the idea is to integrate various services and components.
“And so, when you are applying for a driver’s licence, for example, the way how this will work is that there will no longer be the need for you to take your birth certificate and other recommendations because you have your national identification number (NIN) and national card, which will give you access to all government services,” he pointed out.
Jamaican citizens and legal residents will be able to enrol for the NIDS at centres across the island on a phased basis.
The first phase of enrolment is set for September 2018, and the national roll-out will be April 2019, based on the passage of the legislation.
The roll-out and management of the NIDS will be handled by a new agency, the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), which will replace the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) and will provide more enhanced services.