Municipal identification as a platform

Bill de Blasio introduced New York City’s new IDNYC municipal ID card program this week. The concept of a municipal ID looks like it’s still relatively new, with the idea generally beingthat these programs can provide access to services that aren’t normally accessible for people on the margins of society.

I read a few weeks ago about Nordic nations leading the trend toward fully cashless societies, and that article pointed out the similar problem that those without access to mainstream credentials and resources could be seriously impacted in that transition. I know of one state here that’s already investigating shifting its driver’s licenses from physical to digital wallets. So this trend of fully cashless societies and digitized credentials will become increasingly important.

This is why I’m bullish on what de Blasio has introduced in New York, which isn’t just a municipal ID program enabling better access to city-administered social services, but what looks like a pretty comprehensive program that combats both potential incentives for grey/black markets and enables access to the city’s social and cultural institutions. From the article:

“On Monday, New York is expected to introduce the country’s largest municipal-identification program, issuing cards intended as a boon for undocumented immigrants, the homeless and others who strain to navigate the bureaucracy of city services and institutions without government-issued ID. The card will confer discounts for prescription drugs, access to city buildings and free memberships to zoos and museums. It will be accepted as a library card across the city’s three public library systems and recognized as identification to open an account at several banks and credit unions.”

Again, what makes IDNYC remarkable isn’t that it’s simply providing access to city services, but that it looks like it’s been created with the potential to really exist as something like a platform for broader access and engagement with civic life. If IDNYC can be sustained and expanded in terms of its platform-like offerings, that should drive broad interest and sign-ups that in turn should expand the benefits of the program.