Driver's Licenses Go Digital

Think back, it’s your 16th birthday, you just passed your driver’s license road exam and your ecstatic, you get your photo taken and the DMV clerk prints your fresh driver’s license-- You are ready to hit the road. All of that is about to change for about a million Iowa residents later this year. Iowa residents will be the first to test out a mobile / digital driver’s license that will allow them to display and control their personally identifiable information.
Iowa is confident this is a technology its residents are going to be interested in. This spring, it signed contracts with a number of firms, including IBM for hosting and service support, and expects to spend $3.5 million to make mobile drivers’ licenses (mDL), or digital drivers’ licenses (DDL), a reality.
Other states are waiting in the wings of Iowa and are looking to test out this technology in pilot programs in the Spring of 2019. Those states include: Delaware, Washington D.C., Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, and Wyoming.
The widespread use of mobile driver’s licenses is mostly believed to be inevitable, though years away. Security experts and public officials view the digital licenses as the best platform for what is expected to eventually become a universal, widely accepted, safer, and more secure form of single ID — the driver’s license 2.0, with information that can be more closely guarded by its owner, yet more quickly and inexpensively updated by state agencies.
Iowa Department of Transportation Director Mark Lowe said the technology could enhance existing uses for “hard cards” (plastic driver’s licenses), and ultimately surpass them as a universally accepted identity with the benefit of enhancing other services. “From my perspective, the next place we go with this is not so much showing up at a state agency and showing the mDL, as much as using the mDL as the portal by which we connect with the person to undertake transactions,” Lowe said.
Some of the possible transactions include registering to vote or filing your state income tax return, which could help speed up the secure submission of the return and refund.
How is the DOT ensuring these mDL’s are more secure than their ‘plastic’ counterparts? Adding a timestamp or movable, 3-D-like qualities to the photo of its bearer will help secure it. The license will also be contained within its own app on the smartphone, which will also aid in security.
Arjan Geluk, the principal advisor for UL Identity Management and Security explains, “There are a lot of promising opportunities around mobile drivers’ licenses. I think what is important is, if you go, keep it simple at the start.”
If you were anything like me at 16, you couldn’t wait to find a wallet with a clear card slot to show off your new driver’s license. Soon we will see wallets be a thing of the past, replaced by our smartphones, that will soon house anything we need, like credit cards and, soon, your driver’s license.

Extract has often seen the government and public sector move to a more digitized era, and we are in the business of keeping sensitive data protected.  This is why we’ve created software to automatically identify things like DL Numbers, Social Security Numbers, Dates of Birth, Addresses and more so they can be automatically removed from public documents. If you’d like to learn more about how we protect citizens’ privacy, please reach out to us today.


About the Author: Taylor Genter

Taylor is the Marketing Specialist at Extract with experience in data analytics, graphic design, and both digital and social media marketing.  She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater. Taylor enjoys analyzing people’s behaviors and attitudes to find out what motivates them, and then curating better ways to communicate with them.