Dublin is laying the foundation for a future in which residents could use a digital code to access city services.

The city has invested $150,000 into the concept of Dublin's digital identity project, said Doug McCollough, Dublin's chief information officer.

Dublin is beginning a beta-test phase and would create communication plans, services and policies to support the new technology, McCollough said.

"We don't know exactly how long this may last, but it is possible we will have services and policies ready for the general public within 6 to 9 months," he said.

The goal, McCollough said, is for residents to be able to use a QR code, which is a "quick response" code that is a two-dimensional machine readable optical label made of black and white squares, to scan their information into a form, register for a public meeting, gain entry into a facility or identify oneself as an employee.

"We can see a future in which people would have fewer forms to fill out, could use a single QR code all over the city to gain access to things, and would not need to show a photo ID with address, eye color, height, weight and date of birth to purchase alcohol or cigarettes," he said.

A digital identity program also could have cost-saving benefits, McCollough said.

Now, departments and organizations have to record and store personal information each time a person fills out forms, McCollough said.

Often, different departments maintain their own records and the cost of securing and managing these records is expensive and sometimes duplicated.

A digital identity program would record personal information only once, potentially reducing the expense of duplicating that information not only for the city, but also for other companies and organizations that need identity information but do not want to store, secure and manage it, he said.

The technology also could make it easier for people to share opinions with the city or other organizations.

Polling of residents, for example, could take place on smart phones, McCollough said. A city department could ask members of a specific neighborhood opinions about a specific policy or service.

A home owner's association could ask members to vote on decisions before the association takes an official stance, he said.

"In these cases, while the process could be easier, the real value is in the ability to trust that the results of those polls are accurate, cannot be tampered with and are permanent records," McCollough said.

"The ability to validate results outside of an election could be of great use in increasing the engagement of citizens to their local government."

The next steps for the project, McCollough said, is to move through the beta testing collecting feedback from early adopters and implement any changes to the program.

Dublin is considering partnerships with private-sector organizations and local businesses, as well as other levels of government, he said.

The city plans to announce locations where people could volunteer to establish a digital identity, McCollough said.

The app also would include a polling function for residents to receive and answer questions, and a platform in which users can be awarded Dublin Points for community participation at city-sponsored events or volunteer work, said Josh Green, CEO and founder of Software Verde, the company Dublin worked with on the program.

Those points, or tokens, could be redeemed by scanning a code on one's personal device, he said.

Dublin is using blockchain technology, which is a method of compiling digital information that is linked using encryption making it difficult to be copied or modified, as the infrastructure for the digital identity program's token system, although the users don't actually use Bitcoin Cash cryptocurrency directly, McCollough said.

Rather, Dublin is using new technology -- a custom token system called "simple ledger protocol" -- to send Dublin Points to residents participating in the program, he said.

Green said the project includes a mobile app that has been developed for both Android and Apple devices.

Residents would be able to use the app to scan a QR code instead of showing their driver's licenses or utility bills or filling out forms, he said.

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