Published on in Public SectorInnovation

This month, paper counterparts to the UK driving licence are being torn up and replaced with a new digital enabled alternative service.

This news has attracted some negative headlines  with experts warning of ‘chaos’ for motorists looking to hire a car overseas. There are concerns that motorists don’t know they will have to obtain a code from the DVLA website which proves they are able to drive – research from the RAC backs up the claim.

Rather than slamming the brakes on this scheme, I believe it is important to look at the bigger picture. This is a positive step by the Government. A move to digital should cut back on bureaucracy and save time and taxpayers’ money. Paperless driving licences also have obvious environmental benefits (paper, envelopes and postage).

Ongoing moves to digital will take us out of the slow lane and onto the road to a digital-first future.

It also moves to address a growing appetite from the UK population for greater access to digital services at a government and local authority level.

According to our recent Digital Inside Out report, one in five (20%) citizens would most like to see central government improve its digital services.

As part of this scheme, data on traffic offences will be held on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database and accessed online, by post, or over the telephone. This creates a much simpler system for everyone, as data can be updated in real-time and it also removes the hassle of losing a paper counterpart license.

Our research also found more than two thirds of people will “always” or “sometimes” use the digital option when available.

While digital innovation is increasingly meeting citizens’ demands, we must also consider the need to securely share data with stakeholders other than the owner of the driving licence – for example, insurance companies.

What looks like a simple piece of paper can in fact mask very complex processes and interactions, all of which must be re-implemented in the digital world. The efficiency savings promised show the continuing role technology must play in transforming Government – but ensuring security and stability is critical.

With this growing demand for digital services many other government departments will be looking at paperless driving licenses with interest – and thinking about how they can transform their own offerings.

If the scheme succeeds, it could be used as an example of best practice for an increasingly digital government.

 

Photo credit: gov.uk

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Steven Cox

Vice President, Fujitsu Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador at Fujitsu

1 Comment

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    Roger Gilbert said on

    The designers of the digital service have clearly got this wrong, I assume they have an image of overseas car hire as either part of a short business trip or a “fly drive” holiday. In either case they are working on the assumption that the car is hired soon after arrival. I am just flying off on a two week holiday outside the EU staying in two hotels. It is likely I will hire a car at both hotels for a day or two and in neither case within 72 hours. So what do I do? Hope that the hotel internet is up to the challenge of using the DVLA service. Use the phone service at £2.50 per minute and hope there isn’t a queue. Hope that the car hire companies have not yet heard of the DVLA system. I can tell you now that I am going for option 3.

    Focussing on the big picture is fine but start with a service that actually works for the British driver.

    Roger

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