How’s that for protocol?
If you’re anything like me, you probably use the password reset function on websites more often than the login function. This is a huge problem, both for security and for user experience.
The City of Nanaimo recognized that as useful as the city’s web applications are, requiring citizens to remember yet another password is not reasonable. Early this year the city did an initial analysis of OpenID, and Jeff Jacob–one of my colleagues–took on the task of developing the infrastructure to support OpenID and one of the first applications to take advantage of it. You can read the everyman’s description of Nanaimo’s OpenID initiative along with links to the OpenID-enabled services.
While the majority of users probably have an OpenID account already, it would not be responsible to require citizens to sign up for an external login service. A mix of forms-based and OpenID login capabilities may have been easier, but it just made more sense for Jeff to implement a city-specific OpenID provider using the DotNetOpenID open source library. This allows Nanaimo’s application login class to be more streamlined while presenting a consistent user experience, but more importantly it allows the city to act as a provider for third party / COTS web applications as these start supporting OpenID. Eventually Nanaimo citizens will be able to log into all city services using a single ID of their choice.
It is gratifying to see that during the City’s implementation phase many other organisations, such as the US Federal Government, have been embracing OpenID. Allowing citizens to access services using their own credentials is a key part of Nanaimo’s longstanding policy of providing easy access to the information residents and businesses need to live and do business here.
If you work for a local government and are interested in sharing information and/or code, please get in touch with Nanaimo’s IT department!
P.S. As always, I am writing from a personal perspective. Opinions here are my own, and are not necessarily shared by my employer.