John Phillips
John Phillips March 22, 2024

ISO mDL and related standards

What does the set of standards referenced by ISO mDL (digital driving licence) look like? How does it relate to the generic development of the “mdoc” by ISO?

ISO mDL (ISO/IEC 18013-5:2021), is the mobile digital driving licence standard issued and maintained by ISO – International Organization for Standardization. Adopted by many countries, states and product manufacturers, while some might seek improvements, this is currently the most mature and tested standard for digital driving licences.

As well as specific details of the communication interactions required for in person verification and server retrieval, 18013-5 includes a definition of “mdoc” – a “document or application that resides on a mobile device”, as well as a specification of the mdoc data model elements (mandatory and optional) required for driving licences. The detail of data and communication is necessary to try to ensure that two product that comply with the standard can be interoperable.

In reading 18013-5, I thought I’d create an arc-node graph of the normative references it makes to other ISO (red circles) and non-ISO (blue squares) standards. That’s the cluster in the lower part of my diagram. You’ll note that 18013-5 (necessarily) makes reference to a lot of other standards.

A generic approach to the “mdoc” container is under development in ISO 23220 set of standards. Of these, 23220-1 is published and the other 5 standards in the family are under development. That cluster is in the upper part of the diagram. 23220-1 is informative, but includes a bibliography of referenced standards that I used to draw its network. You’ll see this in the top right of the diagram.

It is interesting (to me!) that the two sets (18013 and 23220) don’t have many shared references (I could only find 2), and hence seem quite distinct, currently at least.

Why do all this? I find that trying to draw things helps me understand them. In this case my two take homes were:

1) Better understanding and a renewed respect for the engineering (let alone governance) that it takes to build compliant, interoperable products.

2) Curiosity on how the coordination works on standards development in ISO (there are a *lot* of ISO standards)

Relationship Graph for ISO 18013 and ISO 23220 Standards
Relationship Graph for ISO 18013 and ISO 23220 Standards
About the Author
John Phillips
John Phillips John believes that there are better models for digital trust for people, organisations, and things on a global scale. He sees verifiable credentials, trustworthy communication, and trustworthy identifiers as a disruptive force for change for good, and wants to be a catalyst for that change, helping people and organisations navigate their way to a better future.

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