My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why the NIDS coming in 2020 and How to replace your Stolen Driver's License and National

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why the NIDS coming in 2020 and How to replace your Stolen Driver's License and National

Looks like a NIDS (National Identification System), the equivalent of SSN (social Security Numbers) in the US of A, is set for 2021!

So says Project Director in the Office of the Prime Minister Denzil Plummer in the article “National Id System On Track”, published Saturday April 23, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner and “National ID System on track for 2020 – OPM”, published Thursday, April 21, 2016, The Jamaica Observer.

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This NIDS has me fascinated, as I recently lost all my identification on Friday April 6th 2016 due to either theft or carelessness on my part; I now have to replace my National ID, Driver's License as well as my TRN (Tax Registration number) and NIS (National Insurance Scheme) number.

I began the process on Monday April 9th at the Tax Office in May Pen, Clarendon as I start a new job soon and I need to get these document back for identification purposes. The NIS was the easiest to replace as well as the TRN, which is no longer being printed as noted in the article “No More TRN Cards ... TAJ Switching To Letters”, published Sunday March 20, 2016 by Tameka Gordon, The Jamaica Gleaner

But the reprinting of the Driver's License will takes anywhere from three (3) to six (6) weeks and the National ID will take up to 6 months, making me wonder, is there a faster way to get this done. After a bit of Googleing, I soon bumped into the NIDS and discovered that I'd even written a blog article about it back in 2011 as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaica to adopt National Identification System - NIDS makes Caribbean Islands in the Stream”.  

So what exactly is the NIDS?

National Identification System - One Card to rule them All

The idea of a NIDS (National Identification System) to replace all form of picture ID, including passport was first proposed on Monday, August 1, 2011 as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaica to adopt National Identification System - NIDS makes Caribbean Islands in the Stream”.  

The NIDS is meant to replace all those cumbersome list of cards that I have to essentially walk around with:

1.      NIS (National Insurance System)
2.      TRN (Tax Registration Number)
3.      National Voter’s ID
4.      Passport
5.      Driver’s License
6.      JADEP Health Cards

It would also have the same benefits for both Public and Private Sectors:

1.      Registration of births and deaths
2.      Criminal records
3.      Traffic ticketing
4.      Tax compliance
5.      Records management
6.      Road and drivers licensing
7.      Travel within CARICOM

Now some five (5) years later, we are no closer to this elusive idea being a reality. So what has the Office of the Prime accomplished in the past five (5) years?

Progress on NIDS - Phase One burns through almost JA$100 million

A lot, albeit with a lot of money spend in the process. The Project has three (3) phases:

1.      Phase One
2.      Phase Two
3.      Phase Three

According to Denzil Plummer, Phase One of the project was completed in 2015 with financing as follows:

1.      US$670,000 (JA$82,376,500) from the Inter-American Development Bank
2.      US$120,000 (JA$14,754,000) from the Government of Jamaica

That works out to be some JA$97,130,500, a little under JA$100 million this is way more than the JA$24.9 million was allocated in the 2015-2016 Budget as noted in “Full roll-out of National ID System now set for 2020”, published Thursday, July 09, 2015 by Alpheus Saunders, The Jamaica Observer.

For JA$100 million the Office of the Prime Minister accomplished the following for NIDS:

1.      Developing the legislative and institutional framework
2.      Designing the NIDS information and communications technology architecture
3.      Conducting an economic and cost/benefit analysis
4.      Carrying out a baseline survey
5.      Developing a communication and behaviour change plan

So what does Phase Two and Phase Three entail?

NIDS Phase Two and Phase Three - Electronic Voting for Diaspora and Easy travel through CARICOM

Phase Two, is set to begin in 2016 and costs US$500,000 (JA$61,475,000) with some JA$15 Million made available in the 2016/17 Estimates of Expenditure as noted in the article “NIDS Project gets $15 Million”, published April 21, 2016 by Denise Dennis, The Jamaica Information Service

The Budget has increased to JA$107.8 million, roughly double the original projected figure and it has also been extended from April 2016 to May 2018 as noted in the article “More Delays To Hit Roll Out Of National ID System, Budget Jumps 100%”, Published Wednesday April 20, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Phase Two is set to accomplish the following:

1.      Assess readiness of RGD (Registrar General’s Department)
2.      Assess readiness of EOJ (Electoral Office of Jamaica)
3.      Realignment of the operational processes of PICA (Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency)
4.      Modification of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Work Permit process
5.      Linking of birth and death databases to NIDS
6.      Launching a PR (Public Relations) Campaign

Phase Three will see the following being accomplished:

1.      NIDS hardware and software system roll-out
2.      Activation of the National Registration Commission

Hopefully NIDS PR Campaign will be ready before General Elections 2021, as by then we should have had Electronic Voting as described in my blog article entitled “How Electoral Office of Jamaica's EVIBIS eliminates Voter Fraud for smartphone and HDTV Voting in 2021”.

Electronic voting, coupled with the NIDS, would make Diaspora voting possible, along with the expected side-benefits of free and easy travel across CARICOM, will be the legacy of the NIDS Project. Let's hope they get it done by 2020, as walking around with a National ID, Passport and Driver's License to identify myself in Jamaica is really getting old and it's way too troublesome to replace them all when you get robbed.

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