Public services, same as all others, are nowadays part of our daily lives. In many daily situations, it has become common that access to specific services is personal and non-transferable, thus requiring secure and trustful identification and management of the so-called digital identities. Digital identity can be defined as conversion of personal information, as well as authentication at different access points and authorization to access set of services. This digital identity allows an entity to be distinguished from any other. Digital identity (eID) system is a very important component in the digital services ecosystem as it connects citizens to a variety of opportunities. However, it also contains different data collection practices that can negatively impact e.g., on personal right to privacy, autonomy, and self-determination. Many approaches to govern eID systems have not been able to fully address the trade-offs between these opportunities and risks associated with eID systems [Anand and Brass., 2021].

Public administrations sometimes hold different and overlapping (even contradictory) versions of the same digital identity, facing difficulties to ensure a single consolidated and verifiable eID. This results in inefficient processes and disturbance for both end users (citizens and businesses) and public servants, who must verify the same information, and still may not get an accurate and trustful identity [Borrows et al., 2017]. A technological solution based on disruptive technologies has the potential to lead to more significant positive, sustainable changes. However, the drawback of utilizing disruptive technologies is that the citizens will have more doubts and require more convincing to accept and adopt the new solution [Musto et al., 2023]. Technology plays a powerful role in quality of life, changing people’s desires and behaviours, re-shaping the societal design of communities [Satava et al., 2007]. This sort of consideration is true in general, but especially if seen in accordance with eIDs. eID management will also foster the European civil societies to go beyond the actual crisis and enhance the political trust in national and EU institutions [Thomassen, 2015]. There is an important gap in research around public trust in systems that are intended to collect information with the potential of compromising privacy [Watson et al., 2017]. In the last two decades, there have been several approaches for decentralised trust models and, with that, decentralised identity management [Govindaraj and Jaisankar, 2017]. To make sure e.g., the applicability, trust, and compliance of eID for accessing to public services, it is imperative to consider relevant standards [Lindner et al. 2023].

Disruptive eID technologies will change how services are provided to citizens. eGovernment as a platform is not different, and it faces the same challenges of digital transformation as other sectors [Meyerhoff, 2017]. It is illustrated that within a service platform, openness and transparency are possible, with knowledge sharing on the government-to-government (also cross-border) level and it can also increase private innovations [Yli-Huumo et al., 2018]. A study in eID has shown that even dominant private platform owners can be sidelined when public sector takes an interest on e-identification platforms [Bazarhanova et al., 2019]. Furthermore, existing research identifies that the socio-technical arrangements for e-ID platforms are often ignored. In recent investigation, user requirements for an e-ID management platform in the public sector has been studied [Bakhaev et al., 2023]. It is also important to explore the philosophical implications of the Self-sovereign identity (SSI), while seeing it as a prime example in which the process of data subjectivation as defined here takes place [Pierucci and Cesaroni, 2023].

From an economic perspective, on the Economics of Privacy in the business sector is one reason among many to identify and realise long-term economic benefits also for the public sector [Acquisti et al., 2016]. Research on digital identity management falls in a relatively new area, where there are not yet recognised benchmarks [Omale, 2019]. Thus, it is important to explore technology but also operational impacts and framework conditions to assist future delivering of marketable prototypes and pilots such as e.g., eEstonia [Lemieux, 2016]. Roadmaps have become a widespread instrument of strategic planning across different fields and sectors. Roadmaps are designed to be “simple, adaptable ‘strategic lenses’, through which the evolution of complex systems can be viewed, supporting dialogue and communication” [Phaal and Robert, 2009].

This special issue:

  • Encourages both conceptual, imaginative, and empirical work from multiple perspectives in the context of digital identity.
  • Welcomes interdisciplinary research that integrates several aspects; this may include transitional studies, systems thinking, futures research, conceptual models, architectural design, and tools (among others) that address the wider inclusions of digital identity solutions in different public service contexts.
  • Recognizes the critical leverage points in the form of technology evolution of digital identity solutions, its’ emerging new technologies, changing market demands because of it, and the need for increased collaborations between different stakeholders such as governments, scientists, civic society, and technical innovators – collectively learning about the challenges ahead.
  • Seeks new evidence-based approaches and productive forms of collaboration and interaction between science, policy and government, industry, and civil society.

Considering the above perspectives, our ‘call for submission’ focuses on the broader topic of digital identities in public services in both public and private organizations.

Suggested topics for this special issue may include:

  • Citizen-centric design and development.
  • Conceptual investigations of digital identity.
  • Current trends in digital identity research and development.
  • Development processes and initiatives of eID.
  • Adoption of public service innovations.
  • Open Source eID solutions.
  • Social innovation ecosystems.
  • Portability and interoperability of eID solutions.
  • Digital identity security and/or digital identifiers.
  • Digital identity management.
  • Digitalisation and digital innovations for social sustainability.
  • Authentication, authorisation, and access management.
  • Accountability and identification in a public setting.
  • Blockchain for digital identities, self-sovereign eID.
  • Open innovation in public services.
  • Cryptography for digital identity.
  • Digital Risks, and/or multiple identities.
  • Ethical and social issues in eID.
  • Infrastructures and standards linked to eID.
  • eIDs in transforming public service.
  • Strategies and policies in the eID area.
  • Legal aspects of eID.
  • Empirical investigations and case studies of eID solutions.
  • Comparative studies of eID development and use in different (national) contexts.
  • Just Transition to eGovernment.
  • Business model options for eID solutions.
  • Socio-technical aspects of eID technologies.
  • Usability/UX issues with eID technologies.
  • Safety, security, and risk management for adoption of eID solutions.

Submission Deadline: 24 May 2024.

Special Issue Guest Editors: Kari Smolander (LUT University), Kari Heikkinen (LUT University) Juho Lindman (University of Gothenburg), and Francesca Morpurgo (CyberEthics Lab. Srls).

Corresponding Guest Editor (if you have any questions): Kari Heikkinen -

Submissions should follow JIM guidelines and should be done through the platform:

Kari Smolander is Professor of Software Engineering in Lappeenranta University of Technology and Adjunct Professor in Department of Computer Science, Aalto University, Finland. He has a PhD (2003) in Computer Science from Lappeenranta University of Technology and a Licentiate (1993) and Master (1988) degree from University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Kari has published more than 200 scientific publications with more than 4000 citations, h-index of 26 and i10 index of 59 within the last five years. His current research interests include platform economy, e-government platforms, and change in software and systems development practices and organisations. He has won five best paper awards, such as the Emerald Literati Award in 2018 that was awarded for the best paper in Journal of Advances in Management Research. Kari has been the scientific chair in EuroSPI 2008 and 2009, doctoral consortium chair in DESRIST 2013, Eighth International Conference on Design Science Research in Information Systems and Technology, and the program chair in ICSOB 2014 - The 5th International Conference on Software Business.

Kari Heikkinen is an Associate Professor & EU Advisor at Lappeenranta University of Technology. EU Research projects: In the Software Engineering laboratory, he has been involved in FP7 projects and has over five-year experience in EU project management. In other role, he is responsible on teaching on topics such as User Interface Design and forthcoming Digital Business Ecosystems. Currently, in EU advisor role he oversees and manages in co-operation with fellow EU advisors the university portfolio of EU research projects. In past researcher role, he has published over 70 publications in the domain of software engineering. 

Juho Lindman is a full Professor of Information Systems in the Department of Applied IT at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the director of the University of Gothenburg Blockchain Lab. In 2019, Juho was a visiting scholar with the SCANCOR-Weatherhead Partnership at Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States). Juho was a SCANCOR scholar (Stanford, US) in 2012 and 2015 and a visiting research scholar at the London School of Economics (United Kingdom) in 2010. In the field of information systems, his current research focuses on open-source software development, blockchain governance, open data, and organizational change.

Francesca Morpurgo’s research domain is in the field of ethics and data management. She has been carrying out multidisciplinary analyses in co-operation with standardization organisations, and with legal and ethical implications. She has organised several roundtables about the future of digital identity. In those roundtables, opportunities, concerns, and challenges related to the digital identity systems has been discussed by the policy makers and experts of the field. Her recent publications are mostly related to ethical dimensions of digital identity.


Acquisti, A., Taylor, C.R., & Wagman, L. (2016). “The Economics of Privacy”. Journal of Economic Literature, 54(2), 442-492.

Anand, N., & Brass, I. (2021). “Responsible Innovation for Digital Identity Systems”. 6th International Conference Data for Policy 2021, Data & Policy.

Bakhaev, S., Naqvi, B., Wolff, A., & Smolander, K. (2023). “Co-creating requirements for the emerging electronic identity management platform”. 14th Scandinavian Conference on Information Systems, Porvoo, Finland.

Bazarhanova, A., Yli-Huumo, J. & Smolander, K. (2020). “From platform dominance to weakened ownership: how external regulation changed Finnish e-identification”. Electron Markets, 30, 525–538.

Borrows, M., Harwich, E., & Heselwood, L. (2017). “The future of public service identity: blockchain”. Reform & Accenture Consulting.

Govindaraj, P., & Jaisankar, N. (2017). “A review on various trust models in cloud environment”. Journal of Engineering Science and Technology Review, 10(2): 213- 219.

Lemieux, V.L. (2016) “Trusting records: is Blockchain technology the answer?”. Records Management Journal, 26(2): 110-139.

Lindner, R., Schmudde, M, Jimenez, A., Loureiro Acuna, J., & Blind. K. (2023). “Analyzing the Standardization Landscape for Identity Management in Public Services – A Standards Review for the IMPULSE Project”. Journal of ICT Standardisation, 11(4): 403–430.

Musto, J., Auvray, B., Baumann, W., (2023), “Promoting the three pillars of sustainable development through the digital transformation of public services”. Proceedings of the 45th annual Conference of the European Group for Public Administration (EGPA).

Omale, G. (2019). “How governments can unlock blockchain’s potential”. Gartner. 

Phaal, R., & Probert, D.R. (2009). “Technology road mapping: facilitating collaborative research strategy”. IfM Briefing, Center for Technology Management, University of Cambridge.

Pierucci, F, Cesaroni, V. (2023). “Data Subjectivation – Self-sovereign Identity and Digital Self-Determination”. Digital Society (DISO), 2 (2).

Rogers, E. (2013). “Diffusion of innovations”. 5th Edition Free Press (New York).

Satava, R.M. (2007). “The Scientific, Social, and Ethical Implications of Disruptive Technologies”. In: Satava, R.M., Gaspari, A., Di Lorenzo, N. (Eds), Emerging Technologies in Surgery (pp 11–16). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Thomassen, J. J. A. (2015). “What's gone wrong with democracy, or with theories explaining why it has?”. In T. Poguntke, S. Rossteutscher, R. Schmitt-Beck, & S. Zmerli (Eds.), Citizenship and Democracy in an Era of Crisis: Essays in Honour of Jan W. van Deth (pp. 34-52). (Routledge research in comparative politics). Routledge. 

Watson, H., Finn, R. L., & Barnard-Wills, D. (2017). “A gap in the market: the conceptualisation of surveillance, security, privacy and trust in public opinion surveys”. Surveillance & Society, 15(2): 269-285.

Yli-Huumo, J., Päivärinta, T., Rinne, J., & Smolander, K. (2018). “ – Towards government 3.0 with a national service platform”. In: Parycek, P., et al. Electronic Government. EGOV 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11020. Springer, Cham.