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Davis Journal

New app offers alternative to hard credentials

Apr 15, 2021 12:03PM ● By Becky Ginos

SALT LAKE CITY—Going digital seems to be the wave of the future as more and more information can be accessed with a tap or a swipe. The next step – a mobile driver license (mDL).

“It began with the legislature charging the Driver License Division (DLD) with preparing to create a mobile driver license,” said Chris Caras, director of DLD with the Department of Public Safety. “They wanted us to be prepared to take the pilot to the production phase. It’s been in the works for a number of years but more intensive in the last four years.”

It’s in the proof of concept stage, he said. “We’ve been working with a contract vendor who has developed it for testing by 100 individuals. By the end of May or first part of June it will go to the next phase where 1,000 people will be using real data from their driver license that can be recognized for bonafide use.”

By fall that number will be expanded to 10,000, said Caras. “They’ll be used intensely and robustly to move into the production of the model by the first of the year. There were some issues we worked on with the legislature and made some minor adjustments to code. That was pivotal to fully transition into production.”

The mDL is accessed through an app that is downloaded to their mobile device, he said. “You open the app with a secure method and choose from different tabs to share only the information you select. For example if you press ‘address’ a QR code comes up that can be scanned by your pharmacy. There’s a key that calls back to see if the credentials were issued and it’s verified that way. You don’t have to show them the rest of your information.”

It also includes a picture. “The nice thing is you can enlarge it to full screen and expand it to get a better visual of the credentials so vendors know ‘this is the person in front of me,’” said Caras. 

The mDL doesn’t look like a regular driver license either. “It’s designed to look very similar with the same data that’s on a current driver license but the app is much, much more than a picture of a driver license and has much more data,” he said.

GET Group North America is developing the mobile app. “They’ve been in the ID world for about 30 years and produce the hard card ID and passport,” Caras said. “It’s a natural progression on how documents move into the future.”

Caras said when they started to look into the development of ISO standards for mobile credentials, there was a concern that there could potentially be 50 different standards to work through, with each state having their own. “GET Group is fully compliant with those ISO standards. So mobiles from Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, etc. will all be recognized here and outside of our borders as well. GET developed products to those standards.” 

The mDL is optional, he said. “We do not intend to suspend hard ID credentials. We won’t do anything to take away residents’ choice. We’ve been moving for a number of years to mobile devices. For people who don’t want to carry a wallet or purse with hard credentials this offers an option – but it’s not in any way mandated.”