United Kingdom

Technology to Empower a Public Sector Facing Significant Cuts

Technology to Empower a Public Sector Facing Significant Cuts

Melissa UK Team | United Kingdom

The government has announced plans to cut up to 91,000 civil service jobs – about a fifth of the workforce – over the next three years to save £3.5 billion, as it attempts to balance the books due to the pandemic.

What technology can deliver

With the planned reduction in the workforce, technology can empower civil servants by making them more efficient and productive. Technology can do this by taking on labour-intensive back-office administrative tasks, which it can effectively handle at a lower cost. This approach provides a better service for citizens who have higher expectations in the digital age and frees up civil servants to focus more time on critical public-facing services.

Many in the public sector have already seen the value of technology during the pandemic when many services had to be accessed digitally. After all, technology can operate 24/7, doesn’t make mistakes, take time off or go on holiday, and can streamline key administrative functions from payroll to procurement, maintaining data quality to ID verification.

As a result, technology, along with the benefits it provides, is increasingly being embraced and valued in this sector.

ID verification revolutionised by technology

When we attended Civil Service Live in London in July 2022, we noticed there was much debate about fraud prevention amongst the attendees. In fact, identity verification is a good example of an area where technology is changing the way the public sector operates by driving efficiency while reducing costs. With the growth in online fraud, along with the digitalisation of public services, those in the public sector need to know who they are engaging with, ideally in real time. It’s only once identity has been confirmed that it’s possible to ensure valuable budgets won’t be disbursed incorrectly.

Today, physical ID checks aren’t the way forward for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s difficult for staff to review ID documents for authenticity, manually, leading to mistakes. Secondly, they struggle to understandably recognise all ID document types worldwide, causing review-related delays. Thirdly, quality control can be difficult with records of ID checks often held in hard copy at various locations. Finally, operating manually does not usually allow for a quick response to changes, whether legislative or regulatory.

It is technology such as electronic identity verification (eIDV) that’s transforming how the public sector undertakes ID verification. It’s able to support cross-checks against an individual’s contact data in real-time as they complete an online application process while ensuring the user experience isn’t compromised. It does this by matching the name, address, date of birth, email, or phone number against reputable data streams such as government agencies, credit agencies and utility records, to effectively confirm the ID of an individual. Additionally, it’s vital such technology is able to highlight those who have been sanctioned, politically exposed persons (PEPs) and deliver adverse media checks, for a full ID verification service. Only then is it possible to determine an applicant’s ‘right’ to access a service or support, and avoid losing valuable budget to scammers?

You can find out more about what is a Politically Exposed Person (PEP) here.

Furthermore, utilising eIDV is vital with the public sector keen to strengthen their governance processes to aid compliance with ‘know your customer’ (KYC) or citizen and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

You can find out more about what is AML (anti-money laundering) here.

Biometric technology and ID verification

Working alongside eIDV automated biometric technology utilising optical character recognition (OCR) plays an important role in verifying identity, without the need for time-consuming security questions and passwords. This technology can check the validity of ID documentation in real-time, along with successfully examining the image in the master ID documents – such as a driver’s licence or passport – with the selfie provided by the applicant or existing user to see if they match. The algorithm in the technology ensures the reliability of the process by instantly distinguishing differences between the selfie and the ID image, including head position, hairstyle, makeup, skin imperfections and facial hair.

Undertaking a liveness check – issuing a ‘challenge response’ – is essential for those using the OCR technology to ensure a scammer is not using a 2D image or video to trick the technology to ‘prove’ that they are the person they are impersonating. The best approach to take is the ask the individual to blink, which confirms eye movement and proof of life. By doing so it’s possible to establish that the person is real and not a static image. It provides additional confidence that the person being onboarded online is very definitely who they say they are.

You can find out more about what is Optical Character Recognition here.

The accuracy, speed and cost benefits offered by the technology powering eIDV and biometrics are far superior to any manual approach, and also provide a fully auditable pathway should that be needed for reference. With significant job cuts planned for the public sector, technology needs to pick up back-office administrative processes, such as ID verification, where appropriate. This will not only help to empower civil servants to be more productive and effective by enabling them to focus their attention on other vital tasks but also ensure valuable budgets are utilised appropriately.

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