5 key elements for smart eGovernment

By 2050, the UN projects 66% of the world’s population will live in urban environments. In these crowded cities, how will governments give the estimated 6.3 billion people efficient access to public services? And what about waste, fraud and abuse?

Smart Governance is about the future of how efficiently public authorities engage with citizens, offering services and information in a convenient and secure, yet non-intrusive and easy-to-access way. At NXP, we defined five elements that we think are crucial for cities to succeed in the widespread desire for heightened security and improved government services.

#1. Facilitate smart services

Delivering services to citizens in a non-intrusive way is at the heart of what public authorities do to maintain their level of satisfaction. Therefore, many governments and local authorities have made efforts to improve service delivery through online portals. As recently recognized by the European Commission, electronic identification (eID) is one of the tools to ensure secure access to online services and to carry out electronic transactions in a safer way. eID cards support multifactor authentication for both secure log-in for online services and digital transaction signing. Smartphones and dedicated service apps have additionally opened up new frontiers of convenience, speed, and transparency. Citizens can use their mobile device to conduct a variety of interactions with the public authorities, such as:

  • Informational and educational services, e.g. emergency alerts
  • Interactive services, e.g. register to the local school or library
  • Transactional services, e.g. buying tickets to national parks

Smartcards or mobile phones also support multiple application solutions to manage several citizenship-related services with a single eDocument, and that provides significant value within a city, country and even abroad by managing interoperable solutions.

#2. Protect citizens from cyber crime

Massive data breaches have become a common threat that affect most of us. Hackers apply sophisticated attacks to steal passwords, to hack into computers or mobile phones, to capture online banking log-in credentials or miss-use someone’s identity for fraudulent activities. To protect a person’s “cyber life,” an adequate and user-friendly multi-factor authentication is needed to keep private data confidential and inaccessible to any unauthorized use. Numerous governments have also considered using PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) technology to establish and implement a secure authentication scheme using digital certificates. In basic terms, PKI attaches identities to digital certificates for the purpose of assuring, verifying, and securing digital transactions. PKI offers strong authentication of online users, encryption and digital signatures, and also supports the maintenance of high data privacy levels. The key element of the PKI is the concept of private and public keys used to encrypt, decrypt, digitally sign and verify information. This functionality is fulfilled using secure elements in various form factors such as smart cards, USB tokens, mobile phones or tablets.

#3. Strengthen democracy

Electoral fraud, abstention, and impossibility for citizens to demonstrate their right to vote are huge problems for many countries, severely affecting the stability of their political systems. The combination of trusted and well implemented eGovernment identification and authentication solutions can improve the quality of the democratic processes by simplifying citizens’ participation in elections. A secure and convenient voting system with voter registration and authentication based on eID cards (or other flavors) greatly facilitate citizens demonstrating their right to vote and even enable secure online ballots in an anonymized way, preserving their secrecy. Smartcard technology enables governments to solve these challenges and increase their citizen’s trust and satisfaction.

#4. Develop a modern society with financial and social inclusion

For a country or a city to effectively address the challenges of modern life and digital society it requires electronic identities for its citizens. Only then it is able to develop society and make its country or city competitive. However, in developing countries, how are social benefits brought to people efficiently and in a way that enables public acceptance? How do we manage the many citizens who do not have a bank account to transfer social benefits?

eGovernment helps to generate operating efficiencies and improve performance. The G20, The United Nations, and the World Bank Group have all recognized financial inclusion, which is targeting the part of the population which has no access to financial products and services such as bank accounts, as an important global development priority. Financially-included individuals can participate and contribute to the economy, bringing new clients to the private sector and therefore also benefiting the public sector.  Adding a payment function to an eID card is an efficient way of addresses this challenge. Citizens obtain a bank account. Eligible citizens will get the funds they are entitled to and spend them using the payment component of the eID card.

#5. Reduce waste, fraud and abuse

Massive deployment of a service or benefit scheme brings along the challenge of waste, fraud and abuse. Government authorities need to make sure the funds available for different programs are mostly used to pay for the specific services or benefits, and not for the overhead involved in administering them. They need to efficiently verify the eligibility of the recipients and the claims. For example, the U.S. government is currently driving a cut-waste initiative to reduce misspent tax dollars throughout the government and is expecting to save more than 400 billion USD until 2024. Smartcard-based schemes support such initiatives, as they are proven in numerous nationwide smartcard-based benefit schemes around the world in the past 15 years.

Smart governance with all its different elements, is a cost-effective way of spending taxpayers’ money and we think it can play a central role making a better life for more than 6 billion people!

Join the conversation

What smart governance services does your city offer? Do you have an eID card in use? What has been your experience using it? Would you like to see more mobile government services in future? If so, which ones?

Related links
4 things you should know about NXP and secure eGov applications

Stefan Barbu
Stefan Barbu
Stefan Barbu is leading NXP’s Secure Identity business in the Americas, based in Washington DC. In this role he oversees the secure electronic document projects for governments in the region. Stefan has been in the electronic documents industry for more than 15 years in various R&D, marketing, sales and business development positions in Europe and the USA. He has been involved in numerous electronic passport and ID projects on all the continents. Stefan holds an engineering degree and a master’s degree in telecommunications, as well as a PhD on contactless smartcards from University of Paris-Est, and has been supporting the introduction of this technology in the secure documents and systems since 2001. His early work contributed the development of the first electronic passports, as well as the emergence of global standards such as the Near-Field Communication (NFC).


  1. Avatar Károly Kocsis says:

    I can not think of the card will be key in the future! For only a flat sheet! Can Not suitable algorithms to create! It’s hard to show it all solutions. Maybe the three-dimensional instrument will be the solution. The key Which gives freedom to all people and service providers for. The doors from the car, the travel ticket to the hotel can use. No RFID, NFC is not, but can work with THEM, TOO. Can you double encrypted code can give us.

  2. […] Stefan Barbu sees five avenues by which governments can use technology improve citizens’ […]

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