How education, healthcare and politics are going to be transformed in the new digital age

I’ve been working on a new presentation for Endava’s Future of Digital Payments event in London at the end of June. The talk will link the Government’s work on the Identity Assurance scheme with the architectural changes that retail banks have been implementing to enable mobile banking through APIs.

Imagine a digital identity as trusted as this paper book
Imagine a digital identity as trusted as this paper book

Banks have been relatively slow to implement APIs, but it will open up more opportunities than they would have imagined at the start of these programmes.

This got me thinking about how identity assurance and digital identity could transform other industries.

Imagine that when a user visits a website, that site can guarantee that the user at the end of the Internet connection is who they say they are. When I say “guarantee” – imagine that it’s as close to a certainty as a border control person looking at someone’s paper passport.

Education

The site in question could be an education establishment – such as a student who can take an online exam, or a student doing their homework as part of some certified coursework.

The digital world has already transformed education – my son does much of his homework online, and his teachers are no longer concerned with just his score, now they can look at a dashboard which shows how long it took him to do his homework and how many times he retried the tests. The teachers can now see, empirically, how much effort he has put into his homework, not just the result.

Healthcare

The healthcare industry has dipped its toes in the water with digital, but it’s still immature. A friend of mine belongs to a health insurer which discounts customers who wear a health-band (similar to Nike’s). The band can see track how much customers are exercising. This sounds great, but my friend goes cycling on Sundays with a load of bands on his handlebars, so that the insurer thinks his whole family are cycling.

And when you go to a pharmacy to collect a prescription, the pharmacist asks if you are taking any other medication. The pharmacy should access this automatically from a national database.

In the UK, we have NHS Choices, which aims to perform “a digital triage” (those are my words, not the NHS). The site is good, but it’s 2014 and the service should be much more personalised towards people through their identity and their NHS records.

Politics

The recent UK local elections had a 36 per cent voter turnout. The Californian US primary looks set to be a record low turnout (between 25 and 32 per cent turnout).

Suffragettes were still campaigning for the right to vote less than 100 years ago! To increase voter turnout, governments need to move towards digital voting.

My own view of this is that governments are concerned that simple electronic voting opens the door for voting on other matters too – what we now call referendums. In the future there will have to be a balance between the powers we give politicians are elected in the first place and the decisions that all citizens are invited to vote on throughout the year.

 

These are just three examples of how identity and digital transformation together can change significant areas of our lives. The possibilities are almost limitless.

As soon as these identities are trusted across geographic borders, the possibilities multiply further. If you think we already live and operate in a global environment, you’ll be amazed what else can be achieved.

In the future we will look back at this time and wonder why it took so long.

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