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  • Kahmile Reid

WIIFM and NIDS


In the business of communication, one thing will always be true, people are selfish - we only care about ourselves. Readers can debate with me all day on that point, but that is not the point of this post.


Because people only care about themselves, any message, idea, or product, being sold to them must show them the What’s-in-it-for-me (WIIFM) element. The Government of Jamaica failed to do that with the National Identification System (NIDS).


I agree, we need a universal form of identification as a resident or citizen of this country, to that end I support having such a card, I support it being linked to accessing all services, essential services like health, education and legal services being no exception. I hope private sector entities also require this piece of ID as well.

Jamaica is playing catch up in this regard.


I know what’s in it for ME. But, it cannot be taken for granted that all my fellow Jamaicans would realize the benefits for them. I give you one example: When I was studying in the UK last year, not only did I need a student ID card, I also needed a residency card. What is more, I could NOT get that student ID without the residency card...and I was just there for ONE year!


Having that residency card told the educational institution that I am in the country legally and told them of all entitlements I have given my status, down to the number of hours I am allowed to work. Contained in the card was everything, including my biometric data, that the authorities needed to identify me should I need access to anything from medical care to access to a library.


Regarding the issue of communicating NIDS. “The new ID will make your life better. It will ensure a more prosperous future for you and your children”???? That is the best the Gov't communication people can do? What does that even mean? Tell the people what it will mean in REAL bread and butter terms (get creative!).


First clear benefit that I can think of is knowing the real size of our population. If you check the CIA website, the population count will be 2,990,561, but is this really the case? Having NIDS would eliminate the need to make educated guesses about the size of population.


It’s necessary for accountability, NIDS will make it easier to offer oversight of the broad economic and social affairs of the country. The Government will be in a better position to be able to make decisions regarding welfare services etc. with real numbers.


And this fear that the Government might morph into a Big Brother suggested in today’s Gleaner Editorial is highly unlikely given that informal communities are on the rise. If the opposite were true, and we had properly planned communities where everyone had a proper address and could be located by the government, then and only then would that be a legitimate fear.


It seems to me the issue here is not the really communication, but the timing allotted for it. If the Government wanted to meet IDB deadlines, then consultation and education should have started earlier and employed a more engaging communication campaign.

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