With the number of smartphone owners in the United States on the rise—currently, 77% of Americans own one—it is no surprise that smartphone-based digital driver’s license usage is also increasing.
Wyoming is now one of four states, along with the District of Columbia, that are partnering with Gemalto, a tech security company developing digital driver’s licenses (DDLs).
Last week, Wyoming state and Gemalto officials announced that DDLs will be made available for about 100 employees within the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) and Wyoming Highway Patrol, according to Debbie Trojovsky, WYDOT’s program manager for driver services.
In addition, pilot program officials are to start accepting applications later this year for other Wyoming citizens interested in trying the app and giving feedback.
The DDL pilot program began almost a year ago; Wyoming was only recently asked to participate for the remainder of the two-year program. Currently, Gemalto produces Wyoming’s standard driver’s licenses and provides fingerprint identity services for states nationwide.
Participants in the pilot program will download the app onto their iPhone or Android device. Once downloaded, the app will not be connected to the Internet, and can only be accessed with a 5-digit security password or fingerprint identification.
“The app isn’t connected to the Internet, so there’s virtually no risk of someone tracking a user’s whereabouts or personal information based on when they open the license,” said Steve Purdy, Gemalto’s vice president of state government programs.
The app will contain the same information found on a physical driver’s license and could be expanded to include other information, such as a person’s permit to carry a concealed weapon. For now, the technology would simply be another option for individuals who would rather not carry a physical identification card with them.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to replace [a physical ID card],” Trojovsky predicted. “You have some folks who don’t have a cell phone, so we’re always going to have a hard card in the future if we do move forward with a DDL.”
The money for app and pilot program development comes from a two-year, $2 million grant from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology. However, it is unclear whether more funds will be necessary if DDLs are to be adopted statewide, or if a new law would be necessary in order to make this change.
“Gemalto understands that each jurisdiction will have unique needs and experience different challenges throughout implementation,” said Purdy. “[The project] brings not only the ability to serve individual jurisdiction needs, but the strength of working together cooperatively with a common goal.