Digital Signatures: The Last Mile

Posted: January 10, 2018
Tagged As: Digital, Government

The idea of making your organization completely paperless in all aspects of administration and operations may seem fanciful. However, with advances in technology and enhancements to document security, municipal governments and other organizations can begin to see the results of comprehensive electronic data management while potentially creating efficiencies in operations. The key is secure and encrypted digital signatures.

Back in August, AMO released #OnMuni Online: Towards Digital Transformation and Opportunities for Ontario Municipal Governments, a report that provides the Ontario municipal perspective on how to achieve effective and efficient digital transformation. It outlines key issues that affect the sector’s ability to digitally transform, as well as opportunities in the digital landscape for municipal governments, including digital signature solutions.

To begin 2018, AMO is pleased to announce that it has formalized a partnership with Notarius, a Montreal based company that provides solutions to safeguard the long-term reliability of digital records. Notarius was selected as an AMO preferred partner for digital signature services through an open and competitive RFP process held in the fall. Notarius’ digital signature solutions are designed to protect the public and enable professionals to sign electronic documents with the same legal value as a paper document signed by hand. Notarius will offer two types of solutions to AMO members:
  • State-of-the-art digital signature solutions.
  • Advanced and legally reliable e-signing platform solutions. 
Notarius digital signatures are electronic signatures that provide high assurance levels of signer identity and document integrity, authenticity and longevity. Using this technology will help municipalities streamline processes, reduce costs for document storage and safeguard the integrity of important municipal records.

So Why a Digital Signature Service?

  1. It helps manage risk
    • Digital signatures are being used by municipalities to apply an official sign-off to letters, by-laws, agreements, cheques, etc. but these documents often do not have a high degree of security and are at risk of being tampered with.
    • It is very easy to copy and paste a digital signature that is not secure or encrypted. Offering municipalities the right digital signature service can ascertain the origin of signed documents, its authenticity, and integrity while guaranteeing longevity over its lifecycle.
    • A digital signature service that is highly reliable will also provide an audit that will detail who, when, and how the document was digitally signed.

  2. There is potential savings in municipal processes
    • Secure and encrypted digital signatures can potentially transition current processes completely online.
    • In the case of building permits, though much of the process can be done electronically (accessing information, paying fees, etc.), applications and the issuance of the final permit need to be signed by hand and original paper copies are required to be stored by the municipality. The entire process can be made digital through the use of secure and encrypted digital signatures and stored electronically. It could also create greater ease of access to permits and files through a laptop or desktop computer.   

  3. There are paper storage savings
    • Paper documents of official municipal permanent records are often stored in a secure, environmentally controlled location. Municipalities may find storage savings by moving towards comprehensive electronic document management and by using a digital signature solution that would verify the origin and authenticity of current and older permanent records. 
    • There is also greater transparency of municipal operations if electronic documents of permanent records are made available to the public online.

  4. It is scalable
    • A municipality can introduce secure and encrypted digital signatures in scalable stages. It can be incorporated into operational changes in whatever way the municipality chooses to proceed.
While AMO members are free to engage with Notarius about potential solutions that suit your municipality, moving forward AMO will be working closely with several pilot municipalities to test the Digital Signature Service to inform both AMO and Notarius where the solutions work well and where improvements may be needed. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of these pilots.

Notarius will be exhibiting, as well as hosting a session at the 2018 ROMA Conference. If you plan to attend, we would encourage you to join them for breakfast on Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:45am to learn about Notarius solutions and how encrypted and secure digital signatures could help your municipality manage risk and potentially save money.

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