Automotive

Digital driving license begins limited Finnish trial

Digital driving license begins...
The Trafi Digital Driving License app is currently undergoing a limited beta trial in Finland
The Trafi Digital Driving License app is currently undergoing a limited beta trial in Finland
View 2 Images
The Digital Driving License will always benefit from the latest available photograph of the driver, and current status and vehicle information
1/2
The Digital Driving License will always benefit from the latest available photograph of the driver, and current status and vehicle information
The Trafi Digital Driving License app is currently undergoing a limited beta trial in Finland
2/2
The Trafi Digital Driving License app is currently undergoing a limited beta trial in Finland

Smartphones are pretty much everywhere these days, packed with apps designed to make everyday life more fun, more productive or just plain easier. Finland's Transport Safety Agency, Trafi, is looking to tap into this ubiquitous nature so that drivers no longer need to carry a plastic driving permit, instead using a digital version accessed from within an app.

As in other countries, the driving permit in Finland not only shows that its owner is qualified to drive a vehicle, but can also serve as a means of identification, in a similar way to presenting a passport or identity card. But physical driving permits are rarely updated during their 30 year lifespans, which can be a problem if the photo on the plastic card no longer resembles its owner and the information is way out of date.

Sweden's HiQ and Finland's Great Apes have helped develop a prototype mobile system that can be automatically updated with the latest available photograph from agencies such as the police or passport control, given the latest driver status and vehicle info, and have penalty notices added instantly.

Niko Sipilä from Great Apes told us that after downloading the Autoilija iOS app (an Android app is in development), the user is identified using information stored on a nationally-controlled database of Finnish citizens (that's also used for other online government services).

Upon identity confirmation, the driving permit information is retrieved from a secure Trafi server, and combined with the latest available photograph from another government server. The user can then assign a 4-digit passcode to enter the app, or make use of touch/face ID, to ensure that no-one can access the Digital Driving License (DDL).

The Digital Driving License will always benefit from the latest available photograph of the driver, and current status and vehicle information
The Digital Driving License will always benefit from the latest available photograph of the driver, and current status and vehicle information

The prototype system includes a number of anti-fraud security measures. The background of the digital license watermark within the app is linked to the gyro of the host phone and animates aspects such as the Trafi logo as it's moved around. The touchscreen of the smartphone can be used to interact with the digital permit image, which dynamically alters the hologram-like background when touched.

This visual level security can be instantly changed and pushed to the app in the event of a detected breach. The information and photo displayed on the permit will always be the most up to date available from the Finnish authorities and, like a physical license, the DDL includes a unique barcode. The system also makes use of a temporary QR code that's generated from the Trafi backend to help ensure that the user is not using a fake app.

Information other than driver identity will be available through the app, too, including vehicle registration information, engine data and inspection details, and vehicle taxation information. And new drivers, or those adding more vehicle categories to an existing license, are expected to benefit most from the instant availability of the digital permit, compared to the current system where citizens have to wait up to 3 weeks for a physical license to be issued.

Since the EU rules don't currently recognize a digital license as a valid driving permit, the DDL system is currently undergoing a limited beta trial in Finland only, and is complimenting – rather than completely replacing – a driver's physical permit.

Trafi is in approval talks with companies and authorities and it is hoped that, pending a successful outcome, drivers will be given the option to obtain a physical permit or go wholly digital. The video below shows the DDL system in action.

Sources: HiQ, Great Apes, Trafi

Trafi DDL

5 comments
christopher
It's incomprehensible how clueless these Finnish officials are!!! The license attribute assertions should appear on the phone of the CHALLENGER, *not* the license HOLDER, and only after the actual holder has authorised the release using their biometrics. If the person challenging is a policeman, the do NOT need to know anything other than the photo of the driver, and the indication that they're allowed to drive that kind of vehicle. They don't need address, birth, or any other personal info. If the person challenging is a nightclub, they do NOT need anything other than the photo and indication that the person is legally old enough to drink. They don't need actual birthday, address, vehicle info or anything irrelevant. If the person challenging is a malicious social engineer with no authority to even ask in the first place, it should NOT be possible for the Finnish driver to have their identity stolen at all. If the person being challenged is not comfortable to reveal any bit of information sought (e.g. their age or gender when applying for a job), they should have the ability to withhold that information or deny the challenge. Unbelievable that it's the year 2018 and they're using technology that existed back in 1984 (yes, I had a pocket computer back then, and it could display stuff on a screen - same as this does). @Finland: there's literally thousands of identity experts in the world - how about you ask one of them how to do this right?
Bob Flint
"physical driving permits are rarely updated during their 30 year lifespans" According to the Finland tourists website it is 15 years. Ours are updated ever 5 years. Suppose the added benefits could be to link the license to any infractions received, and after a set amount the license becomes void. Maybe even have an extended app to immobilize your vehicle, or some one else's if you tried to cheat the system.
highlandboy
“Sorry Officer my phone has a flat battery, so I don’t have my licence on me” or “I dropped my phone, so you can’t see my licence”. Another example of technology looking for a problem, rather than taking a problem and finding the best technology to solve it.
SherlockMacGyver
Yeaaaaaaaah.... Thanks, but no thanks.
iain83
These Fin's are a bit behind the times. Here is sleepy South Australia we've had digital licenses since October last year: https://my.sa.gov.au