Citizen ID within seconds

Here is a picture of my grandson Jonas taken minutes after his was born. He has a ribbon around his wrist showing his citizen ID which has just been assigned. There is even a barcode with it on the ribbon.

Now, I have mixed feelings about that. It is indeed very impersonal. But as a data quality professional I do realize that this is a way of solving a problem at the root. Duplicate master data in healthcare is a serious problem as Dylan Jones reported last year when he had a son in this article from DataQualityPro.

A unique citizen ID (National identification number) assigned in seconds after a birth have a lot of advantages. As said it is a foundation for data quality in healthcare from the very start of a life. Later when you get your first job you hand the citizen ID to your employer and tax is collected automatically. When the rest of the money is in the bank you are uniquely identified there. When you turn 18 you are seamlessly put on the electoral roll. Later your marriage is merely a relation in a government database between your citizen ID and the citizen ID of your beloved one.

Oh joy, Master Data Management at the very best.

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8 thoughts on “Citizen ID within seconds

  1. Jim Harris 1st June 2010 / 21:51

    Congratulations on the newest addition to your family, Henrik.

    Best wishes for happiness and health for both mother and child.

    Welcome to the world of MDM, Jonas! May all your views be golden!

  2. Crysta Anderson 1st June 2010 / 22:21

    Congrats on the new grandchild!

    I love the theory, but how does it do in practice? For an infant with no existing records I think it might work, but are they going to retrofit the rest of the population? Our Australian blogger, Alex Paris, wrote a couple posts last fall on Australia’s unique health identifier –, questioning whether it would really work.

  3. Garnie Bolling 1st June 2010 / 22:22

    congratulations Henrik and welcome to life Jonas.

  4. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 1st June 2010 / 22:48

    Thank you so much Jim, Crysta and Garnie.

    The Danish citizen ID has been in use since the 60’s. It is an all-purpose ID – so the same ID is used in healthcare, taxation, social security, electoral roll and almost every other citizen role. It does work where used as a solution to uniquely identifying an individual (with some exceptions related to either immigration or fraud).

  5. John Owens 3rd June 2010 / 23:12

    Congratulations Henrik. Welcome little Jonas. Fame from the moment of your birth! 🙂

    The Danish Citizen ID is a very useful mechanism for linking all data held about a citizen and, from that point of view, is a powerful aid to improving data quality.

    However, it still has the major flaw in that people believe that it is a unique identifier, rather than a mere linking mechanism. The DCID would not have prevented the stressful incident with Dylan Jones.

    At the time of generating this unique code, it is process that guarantees data quality, not the unique code.

    This code could be generated, together with its barcode armband, and then attached to the wrong baby. For the rest of its life all of the data for that human being will be seamlessly linked, but it will always be data for the wrong human being.

  6. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 4th June 2010 / 08:20

    John, point taken about the process.

    I found the data governance policy document concerning identity in healthcare by googling here (it’s in Danish).

    What they do is:
    • The mother is also given an armband with her Citizen ID when arriving at the delivery room.
    • The child’s new citizen ID is assigned on a computer online with the Citizen hub and is related to the mothers citizen ID
    • It must be checked that the two armbands match this relation

  7. dariobezzina 7th June 2010 / 13:52

    I think it’s a great system for preventing mixing up babies in hospitals, at least I appreceated it when my kids were born! 😉

    On a more serious note Citizen IDs give data professionals a false sense of security. Apart from our Swedish Citizen IDs (Personal Number), or Organizational IDs (same but for companies) soon reaching End-of-Life there are several problems when using it as a primary key. Immigrants many times get generic Personal Numbers since they lack information about their birthdays. Sometimes the last four digits are made up of zeros. There are also ways to change your personal number but I will not go into that here.

    Another problem I’ve come across is that ID validation mechanisms are turned off when new systems are implemented. I remember one instance where a large system integrator (no names but they like Golf and Tigers) “handled” data quality by turning all validation of. The customer ended up keeping both the old and new system as they had the same customers stored twice. True; the Organizational IDs were unique but matching between the old and new systems revealed many many duplicates.

    I guess that’s why name and address matching technology isn’t that hot here in Sweden.

  8. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 7th June 2010 / 14:37

    Thanks for the comment Dario.

    It reminds me of a survey we did at Omikron some years ago. We compared number of duplicates found in databases from the different Scandinavian countries. Sweden came out as a winner and this was most certainly due to that private enterprises in Sweden are allowed to store citizen ID’s in more cases than companies in Denmark and Norway are.

    Link to further description here.

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