Who we are
The Digital Convergence Initiative (DCI) is a joint effort by USP2030 members, governments, development partners, civil society organisations and private companies to create integrated and interoperable social protection information systems. Launched in 2021, the Initiative aims to build a global consensus on technical standards and guidelines for digital systems which enable the smooth exchange of data between programmes and institutions which are integral to the delivery of social protection. It believes that harmonised data sharing can improve the efficiency of social protection programmes and ultimately enhance social protection outcomes. The DCI is an open, transparent and virtual community which welcomes contributions from diverse stakeholders.
The DCI was established to build a set of consensus-based standards and guidelines for the interoperability of social protection systems. These standards have the potential to
- Foster an ecosystem for innovation by technology solution providers to build products that are interoperable, based on globally agreed standards and guidelines.
- Reduce the time and cost of developing solutions at the country or programme level.
- Design systems that are prepared for future demands, beyond the current level of maturity of policy and information systems.
- Enable countries and programs to mix and match interoperable pieces from various vendors.
Social protection systems respond to risks and shocks along the life cycle. Respective support schemes are oftentimes implemented in isolation, rather than connected to each other. Their full potential can be reached when they converge, when the information is harmonised and interlinked within one Social Protection Information System that receives all necessary data through Civil Registration and other vital statistics, Identification databases, Social Registries and Integrated Beneficiary Registries.
This Social Protection Information System can then be linked to Payment systems and Grievance Redressals to ease payouts and to account for any mishaps and facilitate learning.
Achieving such a converged and interoperable social protection system not only makes the social protection components stronger and social protection services easier to access and to use, but also reduces public expenditure.
The idea of interlinking components of social protection systems isn’t new and work has been done in various contexts to pave the way for converged social protection systems. This includes preparing the legal environment for data sharing (legal interoperability), connecting institutions and agencies responsible for the various components of a social protection system (organisational interoperability), discussing and deciding on the terminology used (semantic interoperability), and developing the necessary IT systems needed for building and connecting existing databases and social protection information (technical interoperability).
Just like with any public works project, i.e. building a public transport network, linking all components or stops on the line, is a longer process and needs engagement of political decision-makers, technical experts as well as soft- and hardware developers. And for the social protection system to be fully converged, all four layers need to be constructed.
How could interoperability look like in social protection?
Meet the steering group
"Truly a rewarding experience to lead the DCI with exemplar cooperation amongst GIZ, World Bank and ILO in steering the development of consensus based technical standards for interoperable Social Protection systems. Thanks to the DPG providers , Social Protection practitioners and technical experts for contributing to the realization of the vision of USP2030 through DCI work program including the “Talking Interoperability” webinars and the “Interoperability in Action” workshops." Anita Mittal Lead Digital Convergence Initiative Senior Advisor - Social Protection, GIZ
"Fantastic to be on the Steering Group of the Digital Convergence Initiative along with colleagues from the GIZ and the ILO. DCI is an excellent example of collaboration to contribute to flexible, adaptive social protection systems in the light of existing and future crises. I am excited to be part of the efforts of the initiative to present robust, integrated solutions to countries through promoting standards around interoperability with the aim to strengthen social protection delivery and shock responsiveness.." Melis Guven Global Lead for Social Protection Delivery Systems (and Lead Economist) Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice, World Bank Group
"I am Social Protection Policy Specialist at the ILO. Working at a standard-setting organization, we at the ILO place a lot of emphasis on supporting countries to develop sound policy and legal frameworks to ensure people everywhere are able to realize the human right to social security. However, in addition to the legal entitlement, there are two more necessary conditions that the ILO works on to fulfil the promise of universal social protection: sustainable social protection financing and sound delivery systems. Ensuring sound and robust government data systems that enable interoperability between social protection schemes and programmes among each other and with other government services is a key element of the latter, of sound delivery systems. As such, the DCI is important for turning into reality the commitment we have made with the USP2030 partnership: a world where everyone has effective access to social protection when they need it. I am therefore happy that I can serve on the DCI Steering Committee and contribute to this important endeavor." Veronika Wodsak Social Protection Policy Specialist, International Labour Organization
"Technical standards for digital social protection provide orientation to software providers and to those who decide on the deployment of these systems, in our partner governments or development partner institutions; they allow interoperability within the sector as well as to “neighboring” sectors – in short: they can unfold a catalytic function to advance coverage and delivery of social protection. Standards can only be defined in a joint endeavor. The DCI is a great example of such a joint endeavor and I am glad to contribute." Ralf Radermacher Head of Programme Sector Initiative Social Protection & Social Protection Innovation and Learning, GIZ
"I strongly believe in the importance of interoperability in digital social protection systems and I am grateful for the opportunity to support the DCI through my work. By enabling seamless communication and data exchange between different systems, we can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of social protection programs, ultimately leading to better outcomes for those who rely on them. As technology continues to advance, it is crucial that our social protection systems keep pace and embrace interoperability. I am proud to contribute to this effort and help shape the future of digital social protection." Dominique Clemens Leska-See Advisor for digital Social Protection, GIZ