[FEATURED NEWS] Driving Digitisation: The Digital Driving Licence

DDL (HTX+SPF)-5Figure 1: The Digital Driving Licence (Photo Credit: HTX)

Keys, credit cards, identity cards. One by one, these everyday essentials are being deconstructed, digitised and downloaded into our smartphones – making what was once a dream of a digital wallet a reality today.

Singapore’s first Digital Driving Licence (Digital DL) was launched by HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency) and Singapore Police Force (SPF), in collaboration with The Government Technology Agency (GovTech), on 7 March 2022. Residing within the Singpass app, the Digital DL will be used as a secure, alternative official identification document for drivers in Singapore. It will be made free to all Singapore driving licence holders who are eligible for Singpass.

“My team is delighted that the Singapore Digital Driving Licence on the Singpass app has come to fruition and we’re happy to be working with SPF and GovTech on its rollout. The Digital DL will enable our Traffic Police to carry out their duties more efficiently and provide motorists with a convenient, secure and most up-to-date way of verifying their driving licence information,” said HTX’s Director of Policing Programme Management Centre (PPMC) Bernard Phang.

The Digital DL comes with a number of measures to protect personal information. Authentication is needed to access the user’s full details, and an animated and holographic lion crest displayed on the Digital DL will deter image tampering and screenshot spoofing.

In addition to displaying identification details, the Digital DL will also display accurate, up-to-date information useful for drivers. These include the issuance date, driving licence status, number of demerit points accumulated, and eligibility for the certificate of merit when buying motor vehicle insurance.

Force-Multiplying the Traffic Police’s Operations

DDL (HTX+SPF)-4Figure 2: Officers from HTX and SPF working together on the Digital DL. L to R: Inspector Jimmy Chan, TP; Pauline Ng, HTX; Yeo Yong Da, HTX; Rasyiq Rahman, HTX; ASP Lionel Chee, TP. (Photo Credit: HTX)

Beyond affording drivers convenience and peace of mind, the digitisation of the driving licence will also bring about a slew of benefits for the Traffic Police (TP). These include allowing officers to quickly verify the details of drivers stopped on the roads, and streamlining administrative work, particularly in the suspension and disqualification of licences of errant drivers.

When a driver has accumulated a certain number of demerit points due to traffic offences resulting in a suspension, or if he/she has been disqualified by the Court from driving, he/she would not be allowed to drive for a period of time. However, confiscating the physical driving licence cards from these errant drivers is a tedious process.

First, TP would have to send out a physical letter to the errant driver, informing him/her to surrender their licence at TP’s headquarters. If the driver ignores the letter or delays surrendering, a police report will be filed against the driver as it is an offence.

Second, after the driver has completed his/her period of suspension or disqualification, TP will send another letter, informing the driver to book an appointment to pick up their physical driving licence. Some drivers might miss their appointment, while others might not even show up at all, prompting further administrative action on TP’s end.

DDL (HTX+SPF)-10Figure 3: HTX officers that worked on the Digital DL. L to R: Rasyiq Rahman, Pauline Ng, Yeo Yong Da. (Photo Credit: HTX)

How could we improve this process?

Solving this question was always on the minds of Pauline Ng (Deputy Director of Investigation Systems, PPMC) and her team-mates, Yeo Yong Da (Head of Licensing and Regulatory Compliance Systems, PPMC) and Rasyiq Rahman (Project Manager, PPMC). Together with TP, they proposed and pushed for the digitisation of the driving licence.

The team was able to move their idea when the usage of Singpass mobile app hit an all-time high during the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore. The need for virtual, yet legitimate, identification documents came to the forefront.

“When we saw the population using and familiarising themselves with digital identification on the Singpass mobile app, we knew that that was the prime time for us to push for the inclusion of the Digital DL on the Singpass platform,” said Yong Da.

Designing the Digital DL

Once the idea was approved, the team hit the ground running, bridging together the efforts of SPF and GovTech to create the Digital DL.

Gathering feedback from ground officers, TP and HTX partnered GovTech to design the user interface/user experience (UI/UX) of the Digital DL. They customised it to aid ground officers, by first displaying the most relevant information – the validity, drivers’ photo and IC number – on the screen.

“Naturally, the easiest way to port the driver’s licence onto the app would be to copy the layout of the physical licence. But we decided to ask the ground officers if we could prioritise information that is critical to their work into the design, so as to cut down their enforcement turnaround time,” said Yong Da.

Apart from working on the design of the Digital DL with TP and GovTech, Pauline, Rasyiq and Yong Da also created an Application Programming Interface to link the data from TP’s database to GovTech’s app, lightening the data load so that the user experience will be seamless.

“It has been a pleasant experience collaborating and working with HTX on this project. The close working relationship between SPF and HTX has enabled us to push out better services for the convenience of users of digital services, and to improve their lives,” said ASP Lionel Chee, Planning Officer in Research, Planning and Organisational Development Branch, TP.

Moving forward, HTX, SPF and GovTech will continue to improve and enhance the information on the Digital DL. PPMC and TP will also work closely with the private sector, particularly with fleet owners such as Grab and SMRT, to adopt the Digital DL for their business operation.