XignSys and Bechtle - A vision for the digital administration.

Applying for a fishing permit from the sofa, registering a company car from your desk or changing your address online—many of the things that required us to interact face to face with a council or government employee are increasingly carried out on our phones. To make this possible, users must be able to authenticate in a way that is both secure and intuitive. German IT security company XignSys equips public agencies with the technology to do just that, bundled with consulting services by Bechtle.

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“Please observe social distancing.” Now there are reminders on doors, in supermarkets, and in office buildings—corona has changed how we interact in public spaces. At the peak of the wave, open town halls and Citizens Advice Bureaus were few and far between, if at all. What’s here to stay? In lockdown, many every-day situations were turned on their head. Working from home has become a feasible option for a large part of the population. Lecturers and students can now communicate face to face from their own homes via video call on their laptops and smartphones. By the same token, what citizens expect from a modern administration has also changed, and digital processes have been propelled to the top of the agenda. Partnering with Bechtle, XignSys wants to help public facilities get to grips with the new reality. Based in Gelsenkirchen at the western edge of Germany, the IT security company has designed a solution that enables citizens to authenticate on their smartphones without the need for passwords or additional hardware. All they need to do is identify themselves with a piece of biometric information such as a fingerprint or face recognition. “Digitalisation is bringing deep-rooted change in all areas of our lives, as can be seen in the way former visions such as those of smart cities are increasingly becoming reality. All with the goal of creating real benefits for the people. Thanks to our partnership with XignSys, we are able to offer our public-sector customers a solution that advances them a great way in modernising their processes,” says Timo Wörner, Team Lead Public Sector Consulting, Bechtle Systemhaus Holding AG.

Trade the town hall for your sofa.

Today we still have to drag ourselves into town, but tomorrow we’ll be able to tick jobs off our lists from home or the office. Want to register for a parking permit or change your address or car registration? With the secure technology from XignSys, you can provide proof of identity wherever you are.

So how does this digital solution work?

Residents scan a QR code on the website of their city authority or other agency using the XignIn app on their smartphone, starting a passwordless authentication process. Other options include NFC, RFID, or a push-notification, or they may open the website directly on their phone and authenticate with the app on the same device. The app advises users on what data the service requires—all in line with the GDPR— and, if they consent, enables them to authenticate biometrically by fingerprint, via face recognition, or by scanning their iris. XignSys does not collect or manage the data, but simply matches it against the authority’s own database. Compared to passwords, this process is much more secure.

Markus Hertlein, CEO XignSys GmbH

Visions of digital cities.

In 2016, Markus Hertlein (CEO) and Pascal Manaras (CTO) founded XignSys at the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences as a spin-off of the Institute for Internet Security. “Our research project at the university revolved around charging columns for electromobility. We were working to enable users to log in to a charging column using their new, chip-enabled German ID card and a PIN. Once it became clear that this possibility would not catch on, we had the idea to translate the concept to a smartphone app,” says Markus Hertlein.

The team is now made up of 35 employees and has moved to larger premises. XignSys’s vision of the digital city sets out a very clear goal: Residents register and authenticate once at a physical terminal, which may be located in the town hall, for example, and can then access many public services online. 100% digital identification is also possible to provide residents with a secure and convenient process from their homes. “Public services will have to reinvent themselves to embrace security and digitalisation amid an array of statutory regulations and complexities. As a capable service provider for future-ready IT architectures, Bechtle has been supporting public bodies successfully and sustainably for many years. With XignSys, we can now provide a defining solution to digitalise administrative services,” says Heiko Logemann, eGovernment Consulting, Bechtle Systemhaus Holding AG.

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Published on Aug 11, 2020.