Impact Area – IDLab 2.0’s Pursuit in Advancing Digital Credential Interoperability Across Canada and Internationally

Find out how IDLab is propelling the adoption of safe, seamless and secure digital credentials by focusing on interoperability across Canada and internationally.

Our aim is to foster a collaborative environment with solution innovators and technology and governance specialists to ensure that digital credentials work across diverse systems and borders.

This article is part of our series on IDLab 2.0’s five impact areas. We have identified these impact areas based on ongoing discussions with leading experts in the digital identity and credential community. Each of these areas represent a point of focus that requires additional development within the digital identity ecosystem in order to strengthen cybersecurity and advance safe, seamless and secure digital credentials as a whole. IDLab facilitates co-created projects with individuals and organizations that we believe will have maximum impact.

What is interoperability?

As the digital identity landscape continues to take shape, IDLab is always looking for opportunities to steer the community towards interoperability. While the concept might be broken down into many aspects and have varying definitions in different contexts, the core principle remains clear – enabling users to use their digital credentials seamlessly across the many boundaries, whether it be applications, industries, or geographies.

Ultimately, interoperability speaks to a simple outcome. It’s the ability for two or more systems or components to exchange information, and then use the information that was exchanged. In a complex ecosystem like digital identity, where issuers, holders, and verifiers of digital credentials all need to interact with one another, establishing interoperability isn’t a straightforward endeavour. At IDLab, we always put the user at the center of the outcome. We believe that we will have achieved interoperability if the user can take it for granted that their digital credential will work no matter where they go.

Why is interoperability important?

IDLab recognizes that one might approach interoperability reactively or proactively. Some might choose to wait for established standards to align and technologies to converge, then pursue interoperability; while others might embrace incremental interoperability along the way. IDLab strongly promotes a proactive approach. In doing so, we seek to help develop and promote frameworks that adapt as standards develop. This way we can start realizing interoperability much sooner. This makes it easier to use credentials widely, which in turn will assist in accelerating adoption.

IDLab’s unique position as a neutral and technologically agnostic organization, combined with our collaboration with various organizations and governments, places us at an advantage. This positioning enables us to facilitate the conversation and support activities towards interoperability.

Smoothing the path for interoperable digital credentials

IDLab’s active role in the community involves recognizing a diversity of perspectives, and collaboratively guiding the conversation to better appreciate the multifaceted nature of interoperability. For example, we collaborated with the Digital Identification and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) on an Introduction to Identity Interoperability to support a greater understanding of the different layers of interoperability such as legal, organizational, semantic and technical.

Projects like the User Centric Verifiable Digital Credential (UCVDC) Challenge and our ongoing work on our Digital Trust Test Bench (DTT) exemplify our commitment to addressing this complex challenge.

Through the UCVDC project we supported the Canadian Federal Government in setting foundational principles for interoperability. By assisting the community in establishing foundational principles, fostering shared understanding, and promoting collaboration, IDLab works to smooth the path for digital credentials to be widely adopted; optimal, accessible and effortless for the user.

IDLab is also collaborating on interoperability with organizations like the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF) and fostering working groups that collectively contribute to the conversation in creating an interoperable ecosystem. For a sample of our work in this space, check out our presentation to the Decentralized Identity Foundation’s Interoperability Open Group by our VP of Technology and Product Innovation, Bonnie Yau.

Paving the way forward

Interoperability is an important outcome for the Digital Credentials community. There are many elements needed to make it a reality on a gradual journey. Taking a “bias for action” mentality, it is important for innovators and program owners to be able to embrace solutions at all points along this journey, rather than perpetually waiting for things to mature. It is in this context that IDLab believes allowing anyone, regardless of their technical sophistication, to test whether their solution meets a given set of requirements will aid in achieving and maintaining confidence and contribute to the journey towards interoperability.

To create a place for this testing to happen, IDLab created the Digital Trust Test Bench. DTT is a quality assurance tool for digital credential solutions, allowing governments and organizations to put digital credentials to the test to make sure they work with other platforms. Given the stage of our still-emerging technology ecosystem, there are a plethora of approaches and requirements on the market. IDLab is committed to taking a design thinking approach to determine “How might we enable users without development or devops expertise to confirm that a solution meets a given requirement?”

Developed by the IDLab Test Bench team, consisting of Patrick St-Louis, Kamal Lakrioui, and Michel Bouillon, DTT promotes interoperability by testing digital credentials to make sure they work with other platforms.

Our commitment to promoting interoperability signifies a dedication to safe, seamless and inclusive digital credentials that can be universally embraced, forging trust and efficiency across ecosystem actors, and throughout the digital identity landscape.


Interested in exploring this impact area with us? 

Here’s a few ways to get started:

  1. Review our Active and Completed projects to see if there is an ongoing project you’d like to get involved in.
  2. Propose a new project. Start by learning more about our co-created projects.
  3. Become a funder of this impact area.

IDLab is committed to strengthening cybersecurity by advancing safe and seamless digital credentials. We explore impact areas to promote a better understanding of digital identity, ensure seamless interoperability and facilitate community growth.