NSW digital driver licence rollout date still unclear

Digital driver's licence in NSW was meant to be available soon after the state election in March.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The state-wide rollout of digital driver licences in New South Wales is still to be confirmed, after the agency in charge of developing it said it's being cautious about releasing it before it's ready.

"The release date is a not a decision for me, but our focus has been to make that product as good as it can be, and make sure it works for people first time," Service NSW chief digital and product officer Chris Fechner told ZDNet.

"It's about understanding how it's going to be taken up, the usage model it's going to have, whether it's going to be for the right to drive, whether it's for identity services, who's going to use it, how we pick it up, but also the scalability."

Fechner said the main reason for this is because the digital driver licence is the "highest risk item" among the different digital licences that the NSW government plans to make available.

"So, making sure it's right is our biggest priority," he said.

The initial go-live date was promised to be after the state election, which took place on March 23. However, the state government is now allowing for extra time to test Service NSW's online platforms.

"We've been really, really, really, really cautious about the environments, the scale, the survivability, the quality of the applications, [and] the security of the applications. We have orchestrated this within an inch of its life with all the partners just to make sure we've got all the things in place to make it the best experience with the most possibility for a successful launch," Fechner said, during New Relic Future Stack 2019 in Sydney on Wednesday.

Digital driver licences in NSW have been in the pilot phase for nearly a year. It kicked off in Dubbo, allowing participants to use their digital driver licence for proof-of-identity and proof-of-age to gain entry into pubs and clubs, as well as for roadside police checks.

The metro trial of the digital driver licence began in November last year across Sydney's Eastern Beaches, allowing more than 140,000 licence holders in the region to ditch the plastic identification card for a smartphone-rendered copy, available via the Service NSW app.

The digital driver licence trial follows the passage of legislation at the start of last year which enabled the state-wide rollout of the technology.

Amendments to the Road Transport Act 2013, the Photo Card Act 2005, the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007, and the Liquor Act 2007 also provided drivers with the option to use their digital licence in place of the physical card for proof-of-identity and proof-of-age purposes.

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

The digital driver licence will join the recreational fishing, responsible service of alcohol, and responsible conduct of gambling competency cards in the digital wallet.  

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