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Work starts on digitised national ID system

David Burt, left, the Premier, with Joseph Weinberg, co-founder of Shyft (Photograph supplied)

A digitised national identity system designed to give residents more control of their personal information has started development, the company behind the scheme said yesterday.Joseph Weinberg, co-founder of blockchain technology firm Shyft, said that work had started this week on electronic ID project Perseid.He added that the preliminary work included ensuring a proper infrastructure was set up so the system could be tailored to Bermuda’s needs.Mr Weinberg said: “The initial pilot projects that will be going live are very focused on making an identity system relevant to these local citizens in Bermuda.“It’s really heavily focused on everyday activities that would require government services.”Shyft teamed up with Bermudian-based data management technology company Trunomi to deliver the optional Perseid scheme.Perseid will be designed to give people control over their own records, which will mean only they can allow access to organisations such as utility providers and banks.Mr Weinberg, who was on the island for the Tech Beach Retreat conference, said phase one of the project included making sure that the relevant government departments were involved.He said: “The focus for Perseid is on government services that directly touch individuals.”Mr Weinberg hoped a timeline for the launch of Perseid would become clearer over the next six weeks.He added “The goal is that we are going to try to move very fast, in comparison to most typical government projects.“I would say in the next six months we will have early working parts that will start to be in the hands of Bermuda residents and work in the system.”Mr Weinberg said he expected the scheme to be operational “by the next year”.He suggested that driving licences, passports and birth certificates could be among the documents available electronically.Official stamps and signatures could also be covered by the technology.Mr Weinberg added: “The goal is to actually enable more privacy and more control than we have today.“That’s an important part. If you think about us going into banks, telecom providers or utility providers you kind of give up a right to personal information ... we’ve kind of lost control with who we are from an identity perspective.“The goal is that we have more control.”Bruce Silcoff, the chief executive of Shyft, said earlier that hospitals and insurance companies could be linked to the system, which would help people save time and money when using their services.He added that it would give customers the power to transfer relevant information to chosen organisations, which would cut down on administration costs. Mr Silcoff said the Perseid system did not hold the information, but instead was a “highway” for businesses and organisations to share information across businesses, industries and international borders.Shyft signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bermuda Government in May 2018, which included a pledge to invest up to $10 million in the island over a three-year period, the creation of new jobs, retraining of workers and investment in Bermudian businesses, education and infrastructure.