What are the stages of creating a digital ID system?

Laura Guzman

The implementation of digital identity systems around the world has implications for people’s rights and freedoms and can exacerbate existing injustices and inequality. There’s a need to design these systems carefully, considering aspects like existing power dynamics, the fluidity of identity, meaningful consent and more. In this context, late last year we began a research project exploring peoples’ lived experiences with digital identity systems. 

In our research, we worked with in-country researchers in five locations–national systems in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Thailand, and humanitarian systems in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh and refugee camps in Ethiopia–and conducted desk research on global trends to complement our in-country learnings. To learn more about our work in this space, you can read about this project’s methodology, what digital ID means for civil society advocacy and how it intersects with the questions of responsible data


We will be publishing a full report on findings, alongside a guide for advocates, in the coming months. As a preview of what’s to come, we’re excited to release a typology that outlines the stages of digital ID system planning, development, implementation and maintenance as identified through our field studies and desk research.

This tool is meant for civil society, activists and journalists aiming to build their understanding of these systems or to educate or advocate around them. It can help you:

  • Identify what stage a digital ID system is in
  • Understand what to expect from each stage
  • Develop advocacy strategies to influence developers and decision-makers

📥 Download the Typology:

Read the English version here [PDF]

Lire la version française ici [PDF]

Lea la versión en español aquí [PDF]

تنزيل النسخة العربية من هنا [PDF]

To learn more about this research, get in touch with hello[at]theengineroom.org.