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Story Highlights

  • Programme Director of the National Identification System (NIDS), Warren Vernon, says the thrust will be a gateway to a digital economy for Jamaica, facilitating e-governance and e-business.
  • It is expected that the NIDS will become the primary source for identity assurance, authentication and verification, in order to improve the governance and management of social, economic and security programmes.
  • The Programme Director pointed out that the implementation of the system will assist tremendously with national planning and development.

Programme Director of the National Identification System (NIDS), Warren Vernon, says the thrust will be a gateway to a digital economy for Jamaica, facilitating e-governance and e-business.

It is expected that the NIDS will become the primary source for identity assurance, authentication and verification, in order to improve the governance and management of social, economic and security programmes.

“We are not going to be able to move the economy into a digital one without a national ID that is secured, trusted, and verifiable,” he emphasised, in an interview with JIS News.

He explained that for this transformation to take place, the necessary legal frameworks, standard operating procedures and data usage and security policies will need to be implemented.

“This solution is really putting in place the ecosystem for Jamaica to become a digital society, so it is about putting in place the required network infrastructure for the Government to improve existing infrastructure; link critical Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); upgrade the data centre and strengthen existing policies that have been protecting our data for years,” Mr. Vernon said.

He added that a huge component of the programme will focus on provisions for the adoption of the system by both the public and private sectors.

The Programme Director pointed out that the implementation of the system will assist tremendously with national planning and development.

“The Government intends to use this (NIDS) to support decision-making because presently, decisions are sometimes made on old data, but now the Government will have real-time data to measure population and other relevant information, and to find persons that are in need and help them,” Mr. Vernon informed.

Reiterating the value and significance of a national identification system, Department Head, Data Management, eGov Jamaica Limited, Walt Brown, told JIS News that the ID is indispensable at this time as the country essentially needs some form of generic identification for its citizens.

“We need to know that you are a citizen of this country, so if you get sick and you need to get health benefits, we have a national identification number (NIN) that we can identify you and if you move from one hospital to another, your records can be consistent because we know that it is the same person that we are dealing with,” he said.

“We have to be aware that every social institution within a country, public and private, are all automated for efficiency and once you get into the field of automation, you have to identify electronically all the participants and all the players within these systems,” Mr. Brown pointed out.

He noted that the NIN will be the identifier for persons and without it, it will become difficult for them to be incorporated into the systems to be implemented.

For her part, Acting Chief Technical Director at the Office of the Prime Minister, Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, emphasised that the NIDS “is the road to transparency and what is going to happen over time is that everything will be so transparent because you can go online and see everything.”

“At this time, no one is going to have a criminal record if you don’t register, no one is going to lock you up if you do not register, there is no fine if you do not register. What will happen though, if you do not apply and enrol for your NIN and card, you will not be able to do business with the Government of Jamaica,” she said.

The first phase of enrolment is set for September 2018, and the national roll-out will be April 2019, based on passage of the legislation.

NIDS will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to capture and store the personal identity information of citizens. Under the system, which will have anti-fraud features, every Jamaican will have a unique identification number.

The project is funded jointly by the Government of Jamaica and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) at a cost of US$68 million, and will be used to improve and upgrade the information and communications technology (ICT) systems across multiple Government agencies.