Use case spotlight: iRespond, using Sovrin to provide NGOs with trusted digital identity systems

October 18, 2018

Iris scans are considered the most accurate and reliable means to biometrically identify an individual. Patient identification, for example, is one of the biggest impediments to global healthcare delivery and to the NGOs working with underserved populations. Data integrity is also essential to clinical trials, which are often at risk for patient co-enrollment.

iRespond is an international nonprofit dedicated to solving these identity problems by using a digital biometric identity solution based on iris scans. The solution guarantees anonymity and confidentiality, essential to building trust between researchers and their subjects; and NGOs and the populations they serve.

Sovrin asked iRespond COO Scott Reid to tell us a bit more:

Can you tell us a bit about iRespond? What does iRespond aim to solve?

iRespond is an international nonprofit dedicated to solving the identity problem using a unique biometric identity solution. Trusted identity is lacking or non-existent in many parts of the world.  Without verifiable identity, underserved populations can struggle to have access to social services, banking, education, or even basic human rights. iRespond is already protecting hundreds of thousands worldwide, bringing the invisibles out of the shadows and allowing them to participate in the world and economy.

How does iRespond bring identity to those in need?

iRespond relies on the latest biometrics—currently focusing on iris scans—to generate a unique numeric ID (known as a UNiD). iRespond works with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governmental agencies and foundations that benefit from a trusted, digital identity that can’t be lost, stolen, or transferred.

How does iRespond help NGOs?

For NGO’s delivering healthcare, iRespond enables organizations to reduce the time and resources needed to register patients and to match returning patients and maintain accurate records. In clinical trials, iRespond provides anonymity and prevents co-enrollment. In human rights, iRespond proves that someone exists and deserves protection.

How did you learn about Sovrin?

iRespond’s founder, Peter Simpson, was an early supporter of Sovrin, and his work continues as a Board Trustee. He recognized the value of a decentralized identity platform because of his groundbreaking work bringing identity to at-risk populations and saw how a technology like Sovrin could disrupt the way identity is created and controlled.

How will Sovrin help iRespond and the projects you are operating?

ID2020 Alliance, an organization committed to improving lives through digital identity, awarded iRespond a pilot project to offer blockchain-based digital identification, linked to individual users through iris recognition. The pilot will be conducted in the Mae La refugee camp in Thailand near the Myanmar border, where about 40,000 people live, with some having been there for more than 30 years. Digital identities will enable the camp residents to access healthcare and provide accurate and secure medical records for the International Rescue Committee (IRC)—the NGO providing services. In the future, the same system may document education, training and skills. The Sovrin blockchain has been chosen to provide the infrastructure to accomplish the objectives and key results of the project.

What about Sovrin is most appealing or unique?

Sovrin, like iRespond, recognizes how identity technology can remove long-standing barriers for disadvantaged populations. Sovrin’s architecture and goal of self-sovereign identity (SSI) parallels our humanitarian objectives, where any individual will be able to prove who they are, which will open up opportunities for everyone. iRespond really appreciates recently receiving a $20,000 donation from the Sovrin Foundation to support iRespond’s efforts to integrate Hyperledger Indy into the Mae La camp pilot project.

iRespond is a Sovrin Steward; Stewards are trusted organizations that have volunteered time and resources to operate the validator nodes that maintain the Sovrin Network. To learn more about iRespond applications and projects, visit

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