Wednesday 23 January, 2019

What is NIDS and how it is to be rolled out

The roll-out of the National Identification System (NIDS) is slated to begin with a pilot project in January 2019, focusing on civil servants.

According to the Office of the Prime Minister's (OPM) website, the NIDS is a unique, reliable and secure way of verifying an individual's identity.

The system is intended to establish a database of all Jamaican citizens, and will involve the issuance of a unique, lifelong national identification number to every person.

The plan for the pilot project was recently disclosed by Acting Chief Technical Director in the OPM, Jacqueline Lynch-Stewart, who said the move is a deliberate one to use this wide cross section of individuals to provide “a good feel of how to enroll people island-wide”.

Speaking at a press conference at Jamaica House, she suggested that, “public sector employees are also a good reflection of our communities… so we felt it was a (suitable strategy to work with this cohort for the pilot).”

The NIDS, which is being established under the National Identification and Registration Bill, provides a legal framework to enable the capture and storage of identity information for all Jamaicans.

Under the system, each citizen will be provided with a randomised nine-digit national identification number, which they will have for life.

In explaining how enrolment in the system will work, Warren Vernon, the Programme Director for NIDS, said individuals, as prescribed by law, will be required to give their full name, date of birth, and biometric information, which includes fingerprints, facial images, and a manual signature.

“Upon registration at the registration centre, you will go through a very rigorous assessment or verification process to ensure that the data is… clean, and that the content of what we are recording is, in fact, unique to that individual,” he said.

The National Identification and Registration Bill was passed in the Senate on November 13 with 168 amendments, and is to return to the House of Representatives for approval.

With funding of US$68 million (just under Ja$9 billion) anticipated from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to develop the system and expand and improve the digital technical platform across the public service in general, the Government is focused on putting the NIDS infrastructure and systems in place over the next 12 months, beginning with the pilot project.

This is expected to be followed by the national roll-out in September 2019, with a projected duration of three to four years.

The layered roll-out and management of the NIDS are to be handled by a new agency, the National Identification and Registration Authority, which will replace the Registrar General's Department (RGD), and is geared at providing improved services.

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