The digital world is making even plastic so last century.

Now, Colorado has adopted an innovation that allows its residents to travel without being weighed down by such things as a driver’s license.

The contactless Colorado Digital ID allows individuals to create a secure but electronic version of a driver’s license or state ID card. For now, individuals are encouraged to carry their physical ID card, too, until the world adjusts.

On their digital “wallet,” people also can store vehicle registrations and proof of insurance. The ID feature is part of myColorado, a mobile app that allows residents there to access state government services from their phone. Even fishing licenses are available digitally.

The new digital ID became available late last year in Colorado, with businesses, government agencies and the Colorado State Police accepting it. Months later, more local police departments recognize it, and the guy who developed it — public safety director Stan Hilkey — just won the Technology Champion Award from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers last week.

With so much business now taking place online, individuals needed a way to prove their identity from home. Digital ID makes that possible and secure. Finland, Germany and Mexico also are developing digital ID technology.

About a dozen states in addition to Colorado have developed the virtual ID. New Mexico should be among them, grabbing onto this wave of the future.

Even as states innovate, though, the federal government needs to set a broad federal strategy, so residents of one state can use their IDs when they travel and all applications of the virtual ID are secure.

With Arizona joining Colorado with a form of virtual ID, New Mexico is starting to be surrounded. Soon, there could be a national plan.

Last September, a bipartisan group of U.S. House members introduced the Improving Digital Identity Act of 2020 to help create a federal strategy.

It would provide a framework to determining how digital identity would work and how the private and public sectors could make its use safe and secure.

What’s more, states will be able to apply for grants within the Department of Homeland Security to obtain money to upgrade systems they use to issue licenses and other ID credentials.

With so much business conducted online, having digital proof of identity only makes sense.

For people used to carrying a smartphone attached to the hand, carrying the IDs and other documents inside that device is convenient — if they are secure. It’s bad enough to lose a phone and worry about a thief using a banking app, but losing one’s ID brings in another level of concern.

Naturally, virtual IDs have to be protected from hackers, too.

Digital ID must be private and secure, and elected officials at all levels of government — along with private industry — have to work to make sure the inevitable online future is as foolproof as possible.

Technology is moving, and woe to those who don’t keep up.

(7) comments

Linda Garrido

What about people who do not have smart phones, just flip phones?

Richard Irell

It would be optional.

Peter Romero

I wonder if the two major political parties would want to use this technology for voting?

christopher quintana

It won’t be real and useful until it’s “real ID,” and TSA accepts it. My opinion: “ great, another @$* all on my phone, spewing more data to data brokers.”

Richard Irell

In the states that have implemented digital ID it is optional.

Richard Irell

Can’t happen too soon!

Andrew Gaspar

With many businesses now accepting tap-to-pay (Apple Watch, Google Pay, etc.), digital government ID would get me one step closer to ditching the bill fold! In fact, if this happens, I may as well just get one of those small wallets that clips to the back of my iPhone so that I can use my credit card at stores and restaurants that don't provide tap-to-pay options.

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