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SXSW – Digital Identities, where to from here?

by Edwina Olver

We all know that the world is moving at pace towards a modernistic digitised society. We all know that governments are struggling to keep up. Some more so than others.

In this panel discussion, government tech pioneers from Australia, Estonia and the US discussed what improving the digital citizen experience looks like considering infrastructure, security and trust.

We started with Estonia (or should I say E-stonia), arguably the most digitally advanced country in the world. They launched their citizen digital transformation journey in the ‘90s. By building a start-up-ish model within government, the Estonian government rolled out highly secure, highly encrypted digital identities across the community. One single ID, one single password, everything digital. A cool example is digital prescriptions – you go to the doctor, they put your prescription into the system, you can go to any pharmacy to access your prescription. Completely paperless and borderless.

I started to shrink in my seat thinking ‘why is Australia so far behind?’

It’s not the lack of technology or innovation that’s the problem. It’s the way governments are structured, sprinkled with their laws and regulations. For example, living in a country such as America with 52 state-based systems adds a touch of complexity when it comes to navigating national systems.

The lack of any identity infrastructure manifests in the crippling amount of cyber fraud we’re seeing across the globe. Maybe if we can follow Estonia’s lead, we can burn the 70 to 80 passwords we need to remember on a daily basis and hope that our government can provide us with one highly, highly secure national ID to rule them all.




  1. myGov Digital ID is an opportunity here, but how secure is it after recent ATO hacks?
  2. According to Kersti Eesmaa, the average Australian has to remember 70 – 80 passwords.


Panellists: Hon Victor Dominello – Former NSW Minister for Digital Government, Her Excellency Kersti Eesmaa – Ambassador of Estonia, Chris Fechner – Chief Executive Officer of the Digital Transformation Agency, Jordan Hatch – First Assistant Secretary and Ryan McFarlane – Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Edwina Olver

→ Edwina is an experienced insights and design leader who is passionately curious about leveraging customer understanding and technology to build a better world. Her career spans over 10 years in consulting and corporate roles, including the Product Design team at WorkSafe Victoria, insights at Asahi Beverages and a number of market and social research agencies where she was able to develop an expert knowledge in quantitative, qualitative, CX, agile and human-centred design methodologies.Over her career, Edwina has worked for clients in FMCG, telco, automotive, higher education and government industries.

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