Photo credit: William Petrowski/The Des Moines Register
Photo credit: William Petrowski/The Des Moines Register

Paul Trambino, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, announced yesterday that Iowa will launch a new smartphone app that will allow you to have your drivers license on your phone.  Iowa is believed to be the first state to do this.  Sounds cool… it makes my inner geek smile.  How convenient!  How cutting edge!

This is not your father’s Iowa DOT!  William Petroski of The Des Moines Register reported:

The digital driver’s license is just one example of the Iowa DOT’s push towards expanded use of new technology. The transportation agency has already installed dashboard cameras on snowplows and it is expanding a program for “paperless construction projects.” The DOT is also expanding driver’s license kiosk locations, and it has experimented with a new method for accelerated bridge construction through modular construction.

They also have this hip, cool new logo that only cost taxpayers around $100,000, but I digress.

The Washington Post gave additional information.

The concept is to not only host the license in an app, but to also be able to send push notifications about, say, traffic, or if a user’s license is about to expire, Lowe said. He said he is “not aware” of any other state that has a similar program.

A group of state employees that travels frequently for work will pilot the program in the next six months, and the department of transportation will determine the next steps for wider use, including giving Iowans the option to try to the smartphone license while waiting for their plastic version to arrive in the mail.

I attended a conference in Ames last Saturday that Caffeinated Thoughts co-sponsored called Technology and the Glory of God.  One of the speakers was Tim Challies (check out our interview with him).  Many know him as a blogger, but he is also an author of three books, one of which being The Next Story: Life and Faith After The Digital Explosion.  He reminded the audience present that we often latch onto new technology with little thought of the consequences.

It’s an unthinking response he said… “Ooohhhhh new tech….” as we wipe the drool off our chins… ok, I realize I’m projecting my typical reaction on to you, my apologies.

I’m sure we all can think of pros and cons with new technology that has been introduced over the years.  With the internet – great source of information…. also a *great* source of porn and a playground for perverts.  Smart phones – it’s great that people can contact us anywhere, anytime.  It also sucks that people can contact us anywhere, anytime!

Looking at the the smartphone license app the pros are pretty evident – people, especially young people, use their phones all of the time.  Take this app, along with the ability to pay for things with your smartphone, and the wallet may be obsolete here pretty soon.  As Iowans make the transition away from a traditional license it will bring cost savings to the state.

My Facebook friends had some interesting observations about this news.  Some questions we might ask how much will the development cost the state?  How much will it cost to maintain?  Plans to keep it updated?  Will it be easy to hack?  Will it make faking IDs harder or easier?  Are there privacy concerns we should be aware of?  Will it make Iowans easier to track?  Do we want to hand our phone, with private information, over to a police officer when we are pulled over?

Now the most important question for teenage girls – can I use selfies?

This could be a great step forward, but let’s take that step thoughtfully.  Hopefully Iowa DOT will consider some of the pitfalls of this technology while it is being piloted.

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1 comment
  1. My first thought was how naive it would be to hand my phone over for whatever use the ‘law’ would desire (cloning, friends/contact list, etc.). Not good. Also, surely there would be a newfound or expanded ability to track owners of said phones. In this day of anti-constitutional and tyrannical use of power and force, with systemically ignorant citizens, alongside a godless and unaccountable culture where anything goes when you have an agenda, count me out. Completely.

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