UN Digital ID – A Building Block for UN Digital Cooperation

13 November, 2020

Photo: UN DSC

A UN DSC Award-Winning Solution using blockchain, biometrics and mobile

Digital transformation is changing the way the United Nations manages its data, information, interactions and identities online. The UN Digital Solutions Centre (UN DSC), in keeping with its ‘agile solutions for a modern UN system’ has developed an innovative digital identity solution for UN personnel.

The UN DSC, a pilot project of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with operational support from UNICC, aims to create a suite of digital solutions that can be shared among UN Agencies to transform common business operations and streamline time-consuming transactional tasks.

In the spirit of emerging technologies supporting the UN Secretary-General’s Strategy on New Technologies, the UN Digital ID is harnessing blockchain, biometrics and mobility, making UN identity verification efficient, secure, transparent, immutable, portable and universal.

The UN Digital ID is a digital wallet for UN personnel, for their personal, Human Resources, medical, travel, security, payroll and pension data kept over time, from onboarding into the UN to parting or retirement.

This solution helps to solve the problem of data fragmentation, helping the UN system streamline information sharing, daily workflows and access to platforms and buildings, facilitating operations across Agencies.

The technology behind the UN Digital ID has been piloted by different Agencies including UN Pension Fund, where they’ve replaced current manual processes with certainty for who and where pension recipients say they are at any given time.

Imagine a world where onboarding does not take five days but only four hours. Where to prove you are eligible to receive your UN pension it only takes two minutes from the smartphone in the palm of your hand, compared to two months using the old regular post. The UN Digital ID is the same underlying engine that will power all these and many other use cases.

Massimiliano Merelli, Team Lead and Head of the SAP/ERP Service Team, WFP

UN together challenge winner

Photo: Reimagine the UN Together Challenge

The UN Digital ID project is the winner of the Reimagine the UN Together Challenge. On Thursday 12 November, Massimiliano Merelli, Team Lead and Head of the SAP/ERP Services Team at World Food Programme (WFP), pitched the UN Digital ID to a jury in a virtual 3-minute presentation. And the UN Digital ID project won!

The Reimagine the UN Together Challenge is driven by an alliance of interested individuals, networks and departments across the UN system, such as the UN Development Coordination Office, the UN Innovation Network, #NewWork, the UN System Staff College, Young UN: Agents for Change, and the UN Office of Information and Communications Technology, in consultation with staff unions and other key bodies.

Gartner eye on innovation awards for government 2020

The UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, a collaborator and contributor to the UN Digital ID solution, is a finalist in Gartner’s Eye on Innovation Awards for Government 2020, with its Digital Certificate of Entitlement solution, which uses the same technology.

Gartner Eye on Innovation Awards recognize government organization initiatives that make innovative use of data and emerging technologies to tangibly advance their progress toward digital government. All submissions are assessed by Gartner, and finalists are selected by benchmarking against world-class performance standards.