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Digital driver's licence coming soon to phones in New South Wales

Following a trial in Dubbo, Service NSW's product chief has pencilled in mid-2018 for state-wide access to digital driver's licences.

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Image: Service NSW

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Citizens in New South Wales will soon have access to a digital driver's licence, after trials in Dubbo have proven successful.

Speaking at the Overcoming the Challenges of Digital Transformation conference in Canberra on Tuesday, Service NSW chief product officer Christian Wood said to expect a go-live of mid-2018.

"Police are checking [digital licences] at roadside stops; pubs in Dubbo now accept digital driver's licences," Wood explained. "The target is to have this rolled out in the middle of this year to the broader public for full launch."

The state government made the first wave of its digital licences available through the "My Licences" digital wallet in the Service NSW app late 2016, which enables NSW residents to renew their licence and update their details without needing to visit a Service NSW centre.

Once rolled out, the digital driver's licence will join the recreational fishing, responsible service of alcohol, and responsible conduct of gambling competency cards in the digital wallet.

NSW residents are already able to renew their driver's licence and view, pay, and contest infringement notices via the Service NSW smartphone app, but adding an identity function to the offering wasn't exactly straightforward, with Wood explaining Service NSW had to completely re-work its initial digital licence pitch.

"We looked at it as a traditional government does, and looked at the vast nature of this product, all its ins and outs, the number of stakeholders, the amount of technology, the number of people we need to engage with, and we came back with a 2.5 to 3 year project that was going to cost us -- if you can think of a number, it's probably close," he explained.

Wood added that Service NSW wasn't sure the the public even would want the offering that would come from the costly, multi-year project, nor did it know how it was going to be used.

There was also the fast-moving technology landscape, which Wood said resulted in the technology around digital identity and digital licensing changing every single day.

"We had some clever executive people look at it and realised it wasn't the right way to deliver a project of this nature, which was refreshing. We were asked to go away and re-work it," he added.

"We were asked how we could deliver it in half the time, with about 10 percent of the budget, and we're on track to do that."

Rather than having heavy stakeholder engagement with each agency, which Wood said would result in shaking hands and presenting Powerpoints in meeting rooms, Service NSW brought in a handful of agencies that would need to be involved in the first step of the project and created a "cross-functional" team.

"Within six months we had a public trial running in Dubbo," he said.

South Australians have had the option to hold digital driver's licences on their phones since September.

Launched in July 2014, Service NSW brought together a number of different NSW government services under the one office -- including RMS; Births, Deaths and Marriages; and small business support -- with the remit to be the one-stop-shop for state government interactions, combined with a mandate from government to bring 80 percent of transactions through a digital channel.

Wood confirmed on Tuesday that Service NSW currently boasts 50 percent of government service delivery under its roof.

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