Public Engagement

People are at the heart of ID systemsyet many identification projects are launched without significant public involvement during the planning stage or throughout the identity lifecycle. As both the subjects and end-users of identification, people’s participation in and knowledge of ID systems must be a priority for the system’s success.

Primary decisions regarding public engagement include:

  • What consultative processes will be used to understand people’s needs, concerns, and expectations regarding identification and to identify potential barriers to registration and use?

  • What communication and education strategies will be adopted?

  • What grievance redress mechanisms will be put into place?

Where ID providers fail to understand people’s needs and attitudes regarding identification—and the barriers they face in terms of registration—coverage is likely to be low. Similarly, robust information and education campaigns, ongoing feedback during implementation, and sensible grievance redress mechanisms are needed to build trust in the system and help people take advantage of the opportunities it can provide, as shown in Figure 11. Transparent and frequent involvement with civil society and community-based organizations—particularly those that represent the interests of marginalized and vulnerable groups—can help facilitate public engagement at all stages of project planning and implementation.

Figure 11. Key considerations for public engagement

Inclusion Reliability Data Protection Sustainability

When done well, public engagement can help identify and mitigate barriers to inclusion; when done poorly, it can fuel mistrust or apathy toward the system.

Intuitive and accessible grievance redress mechanisms to correct and update data are essential for maintaining the integrity of data. Ongoing engagement in response to real or perceived privacy risks to the system are necessary to address threats and foster trust in the system. Public consultation before implementation can help calibrate system design to the current and future needs of the public—avoiding investments in systems that are not fit-for-purpose.