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Engagement Best Practices

Recognizing the Importance of Online Proof of Residency


Recently, the Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC) released its second proof of concept report on Online Proof of Residency.

Residency is used by governments, the private sector and the social-profit sector to ensure that eligible individuals receive the products and services they need. DIACC has undertaken a review to develop a proof of concept to provide a residency check, on demand, with a reasonable level of assurance.

Under DIACC’s framework, there are 4 levels of proof (LOP) of residency:

  • Level 1: The address exists.
  • Level 2: The address exists and the individual is associated to the address.
  • Level 3: The address exists and the individual is active within the jurisdiction for a given period of time.
  • Level 4: The address exists, the individual is active within the jurisdiction and there are multiple corroborating proofs of that activity.

This framework aligns with PlaceSpeak’s mission of building legitimacy in online democratic practices while protecting individual privacy. As governments and organizations at all levels have a responsibility to consult with people within specific jurisdictional boundaries, the ability to authenticate people online to physical location is crucial to developing robust online public consultation processes which result in verifiable and defensible feedback data.

Example: Surrey School District – New Clayton Area Secondary School

LOP required: Level 2

A new secondary school is under construction in the Clayton area of the City of Surrey. The new school is intended to address the overcrowding at three secondary schools in the area, and the Surrey School District was seeking parent and student feedback to establish catchment boundaries for the new school.

new clayton area

Caption: The green dots represent participants; the geographic distribution of participants is made evident and there is clear interest in the direct area which will be impacted by the new school.

In order to ensure that the feedback received was most representative of people who would be affected by the new secondary school, the District was specifically seeking feedback from people who live in the area. PlaceSpeak was able to geo-locate participants as they signed up, and limit participation online to only people within those geographical boundaries.


Governments and organizations are increasingly becoming aware of the importance of digital identity verification in order to safely, securely, and accurately deliver and access online services. With its ability to accurately geo-locate users on demand, PlaceSpeak can serve as a third-party arbiter of digital identity to place.

PlaceSpeak currently employs a distributed and iterative approach to digital identity authentication to place. Users fill in their address upon signing up, and the map visual takes them from the world to their country, state/province, city and then zooms into their address for verification. Google Maps API locates their address. They must confirm account setup by clicking through an email confirmation. Maxmind is deployed to spot any GeoIP address fraud.

Verifying users’ addresses during the signup process.

Caption: Verifying users’ addresses during the signup process.

Users are also encouraged to add further levels of verification, including home phone (audio PIN), cell phone (SMS PIN) and geolocation. Additional methods of digital identity verification will be added in the future, such as banks, telecommunications service providers, and government services (e.g. driver’s license, health card numbers, etc.)

This provides flexibility for governments/organizations to modify the levels of verification needed in order to participate or access different services based on varying levels of risk tolerance.

Read the full report here.


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