Jamaica Says its National ID System Will be Operational This Year

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica government says the national identification system (NIDS) will be fully operational this year.

niDScardPrime Minister Andrew Holness touring NIDS center (JIS Photo)“I’m hoping that by the end of the year, we will have a significant portion, if not the majority of the population properly identified in the national identification system,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said during a tour of the NIDS card center.

The facility will be responsible for producing the identification (ID) cards issued under NIDS. It includes the production center, vault area and enrollment site.

Prime Minister Holness, in outlining the importance of NIDS, noted that when a service is provided, the Government must be able to identify the beneficiaries and “be able to account to you the citizens, as to how your funds are spent.

“So there is, even now, a greater need to be able to identify who benefits when public resources are spent. But, more than that, we need to be able to identify our citizens so we can properly plan. One of the big problems we have always faced, as a government, is that some get, and others don’t,” he said.

“One of the reasons why you have that problem is that we just don’t account for everyone. So, you’re not able to plan for everyone, and what we’re doing, in our 60th year [of Independence] with the establishment of the NIDS, is to ensure that every single Jamaican can be included, accounted for, and properly served,” Holness added.

He has sought to give the assurance that the ID cards will be secured with the highest level of encryption, and cannot be duplicated and misused.

“The data that you give is kept in the highest level of security, with proper oversight to ensure that [this] is protected; the protocols around how that data is used and shared is of the highest level”.

NIDS Program Director, Warren Vernon, said the system is about 80 percent completed.

“We intend to use the next four months to fine-tune the system [and] do all of our testing. We are also using the time to set up enrollment sites across Kingston to facilitate the pilot. [Further] we are in the process of fine-tuning all of the requirements to establish the National Identification and Registration Authority.”

Vernon said that technical experts are being recruited and “we are doing recruitment now for staff to facilitate, not only enrollment, but also to operate the equipment to do (among other things) the verification.”

Jamaica’s national identification system will provide a comprehensive and secure structure to enable the collection and storage of identity information. This secure voluntary tool can also verify an individual’s identity, facilitate the electronic signing of documents, and securely access a range of government services online, the authorities added.