Much to my chagrin, people always exclusively tie the state of Iowa to corn and cows, missing the tech in the population centers. We have data centers for Google and Microsoft, an IBM delivery center, and more software companies than you can shake a stick at. One of the places we’ve pioneered is in the use of digital insurance cards. Iowa was one of the first states in the nation to allow them. In 2015, Iowa will have a pilot program to offer the state driver’s license digitally.
The Digital Driver’s License (dDL) would come via a smartphone app. The digital license would include all the information stored in a regular Iowa Driver’s License. It would would include a moving 3D picture of the driver’s MVD headshot. The app would be PIN secured, but biometric support is also mentioned as a security option. On iOS, this could be Touch ID compatibility. The dDL is not intended to fully replace the plastic license, but be a compliment to it for tech-savvy Iowans who are more likely to have their phone on them than their wallet.
Still some questions remain with the Digital Driver’s License. First off, will the app be easy enough to use? Will retail stores be able to scan it for ID verification? Is it secure? Most important is validity. The United States has no federally-issued driver’s license; it’s up to the states to license their own drivers and provide them with proof of that license. As such, your ability to drive in the other 49 states and the territories depends on reciprocity agreements. Will the Digital Drivers License be valid outside of Iowa? The Digital Drivers License will have access to the same credentials and MVD database as your physical license, but whether retailers, other states, or the federal government will accept it as ID is out of Iowa’s hands. To sort out some of these issues before going live to citizens, the state will begin a 6-month trial test using Iowa state employees with state issued iPhones.
The ultimate goal is the digital drivers license to offer a full service experience. You’ll eventually receive updates from the Iowa MVD about changes to your driving records, traffic, weather, and road conditions, and be able to receive notifications of renewal reminders. The state eventually plans to extend their online payment system to the app as well. While the app has only been demoed on iOS, it should be noted that the Iowa DOT’s existing slate of apps are offered both on iOS as well as the Google Play Store.
Once this goes live to residents, I’ll be sure to be one of the first to test it out. Expect a full report hopefully some time next year.