Iowa Department of Transportation officials are about to start testing the state’s own mobile driver’s license solution. Iowa DoT director Melissa Gillett has revealed that about a hundred Iowa DOT employees will be asked to download and test the mobile app in December, with plans for a large-scale rollout “around the summer of 2022,” she said.
The announcement suggests that Iowa’s own mobile driver’s license app will compete (in a sense) with Apple’s mobile ID solution, as Iowa is one of a handful of states revealed to have been working with the tech giant on its mobile ID system. That the state would still proceed with the development of its own, separate mobile ID app suggests it is seeking to retain a certain amount of autonomy in managing mobile ID programs for residents, in the wake of a CNBC report that detailed the significant amount of control Apple has in its agreements with state-level partners in its own mobile ID program.
Behind the scenes, another tech giant – though one less well-known to consumers, given the B2B nature of its business – has been helping Iowa authorities to build the state’s mobile driver’s license app. France-based IDEMIA was revealed to be working on the solution earlier this year, emphasizing the need to ensure that the app conforms to standards like the ISO/IEC DIS 18013-5, which applies to mobile driver’s licenses.
Both IDEMIA’s solution and Apple’s will feature selfie-based onboarding. As the Sioux City Journal reports, Iowa’s mobile driver’s license app will require users to upload a selfie photo along with images of their physical driver’s license; from there, “Iowa DOT officials can match with the data and image on file before authorizing the new digital ID for enrollment.” That suggests human review will play an important role in the onboarding process, though IDEMIA itself has automated selfie onboarding technology based on facial recognition within its solutions portfolio.
The automated approach will certainly be taken by Apple, which has previously revealed that its mobile ID’s selfie onboarding process would require users to also complete a series of facial and head movements to confirm liveness during the registration process.
As for the rollout of these solutions, much remains unclear. Apple has initially suggested that its mobile ID system would launch by the end of this year, but recently pushed that back to sometime in 2022. And while Iowa DOT is aiming for next summer, Gillett indicated that even after its launch, users will still be expected to carry their physical driver’s licenses as well, saying, “We anticipate it will take some time before we transition” to a scenario in which mobile ID becomes the mainstream standard.
That having been said, Gilett acknowledged that her department has “received a lot of initial excitement about the app” from residents interested in trialling it, pointing to a broader market enthusiasm for the various mobile ID apps in development in Iowa and beyond.