Officials in Mississippi are preparing to launch an ambitious mobile ID system this month, adding to a growing trend in the United States and beyond as more government agencies come to recognize the benefits of mobile identity apps.
At launch, the app will enable end users to create virtual versions of their official driver’s licenses. In that sense, it will be similar to the mobile ID system currently being developed by Apple. The tech giant announced plans to develop a mobile ID solution this past spring, and recently confirmed that it’s working with Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, Utah, Arizona, and Georgia on the project, and with the Transportation Security Administration to ensure that its mobile ID will be accepted at airport screening.
Like Apple’s mobile ID, Mississippi’s will be designed to let ID holders confirm their identity information wirelessly, in its case via Bluetooth. This means that during a police stop, a citizen can share their driver’s license data with a law enforcement officer without either party necessarily leaving their vehicles.
According to Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell, the mobile ID’s functionality will ultimately enable support for multiple other documents, including things like hunting, fishing, and realtor licenses, among other state-issued credentials. More immediately, Tindell has emphasized that users will be able to upload a COVID vaccination card to the app – a feature that appears likely to be implemented upon the app’s launch.
In developing its mobile ID system independently of Apple’s effort, Mississippi joins the likes of Florida – which is poised to launch its own “Smart-ID” solution – as well as states beyond the U.S. such as Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Implementing mobile ID programs offers governments numerous advantages, including enabling them to reduce the need for in-person services. Speaking to local news outlet in Mississippi, Tindel explained that residents will eventually be able to renew their driver’s licenses remotely using the app, noting that “in the future, there will be some minimization of our physical footprint” thanks to the digital options.
It is not yet clear what kinds of security and authentication mechanisms will be in place for the Mississippi’s mobile ID app’s onboarding process, though it may be worth noting that Apple’s solution involves the use of facial recognition and gesture detection.
Commissioner Tindell has indicated that state officials expect to launch the mobile ID app on November 18th.