Project Aims

What do we know about those who use identity systems?

What are the experiences, challenges and stories, particularly of those in lower income populations?

Caribou Digital, International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore and Omidyar Network are conducting research across three states in India to:

  • Uncover specific pain points and under-articulated user needs around identity management including the implications of identity systems such as Aadhaar, voter ID, PAN card, ration card, driving licence and others
  • Surface and convey the experience of managing multiple identities and identity artefacts, from the perspective of people in target, specifically lower-income, communities
  • Establish principles to improve user experiences and the design of identity services and
  • Integrate (1-3) in light of the particular challenges of protecting individual privacy, agency and dignity, vis-a-vis the state and other actors.

Research Methods

The research is still in progress – we would like to use the feedback from these events to refine our next stages. So far, we have:

  • Talked to 20-25 expert informants on identity systems, both within and beyond India
  • Conducted 100 interviews split between north and south India (Delhi and Kapashera on outskirts of Delhi as well as Bengaluru and “Garudahalli” three hours north). We will continue with another 50 interviews in Assam in May 2017 (Guwahati and rural location to be defined), bringing us to a total of 150 interviews. The occupational profile of respondents includes street vendors, domestic helpers, factory workers, auto drivers, security guards and so on.
  • Observed 20 identity-based transaction stories (with 10  more to cover in Assam): for example, opening a bank account; a SIM card; food and medical rations, signing a rent agreement and accessing an LPG connection
  • Conducted focus groups with middle-income communities such as students, middle class professionals and home-makers (to understand if experience with ID is influenced by class or income)
  • Held a radio show on RadioActive FM with a wide range of community representatives including sex workers, auto drivers, waste pickers and transgendered communities on their thoughts on and experiences with identity processes and artefacts