Public consultation

For an ID system to be successful, the population—including vulnerable groups—must have trust and confidence in its design and implementation, particularly with respect to the collection, use and protection of sensitive personal data. For example, the population may perceive that an ID system is motivated by a Government’s desire to carry out mass surveillance. Building trust and confidence begins with understanding people’s perspectives on identification and privacy. Furthermore, gaining first-hand knowledge of people’s struggles and hopes for the ID system will help reduce exclusion by providing critical input necessary to remove barriers to access. Additionally, consultation can help surface issues with implementation that allow practitioners to maximize the effectiveness of the system.

Public consultation should not be a one-off activity—rather, it should begin during the planning phase and continue throughout the project. Different methods of consultation are shown in Table 19. For more guidance, ID4D has a forthcoming toolkit on qualitative end-user research.

Table 19. Potential methods of public consultation

Method Benefits
End-user research

End-user research can include both quantitative data collection (e.g., surveys) and qualitative methods, including focus group discussions, interviews, and interactive exercises.

When conducted early-on in a project, end-user research can help surface people’s perceptions, understanding, struggles, and needs regarding identification. This information can provide critical input to help shape the design and implementation of the system, including registration strategies, credential formats, authentication mechanisms, use cases for the ID, and communication efforts. In particular, end-user research that focuses on or includes marginalized groups is essential for mitigating the risk of exclusion and building trusted ID systems.

Ongoing end-user research throughout the life of the project—or when rolling out new features—can similarly help surface issues with implementation or help inform later reforms.

Standing civil society committee ID authorities can benefit from establishing a committee of civil society representatives that can provide feedback on the design of the ID system and on implementation of the system throughout the identity lifecycle. Members of the committee can utilize social accountability mechanisms (e.g., third-party monitoring, beneficiary scorecards, etc.) to monitor and report on critical issues related to all part of the identity lifecycle – from awareness raising and communications to enrollment to authentication. Civil society can also be critical to surfacing issues from marginalized communities who do not engage with the ID system and whose feedback would not otherwise be captured.
Regular public consultation meetings

ID authorities should regularly consult with the public on emerging trends and challenges that are surfaced by civil society or through grievance redress mechanisms. Regular consultation workshops or meetings with different target groups or in different cities can give the practitioners the opportunity to hear from beneficiaries about the challenges arising from the ID system.

A regular schedule of consultations (e.g., quarterly, bi-annual, or annual) gives the authority the opportunity to close the feedback loop between beneficiaries and government by reporting back on actions taken to address previous concerns and grievances and to seek additional civil society and beneficiary feedback.

Public participation ID providers can also raise awareness of the project and foster public ownership by having people participate in elements of the system design, such as crowd-sourcing contests to design ID system logos, songs, names, or card designs. To build trust and buy-in however, such activities must be done early in the project to be seen as authentic.