Different types of location attribute on the SpectrumThe ID Attribute Spectrum (‘Spectrum’) is a model that was developed by inglis jane after years of working with customers to understand and develop new services in the identity and personal data markets, and as a way of helping clients put their arms around what is still a complex and emerging market.

If we accept that identity (ID) is the ability to prove you are who you say you are, or to prove that you have certain qualities or attributes, then in the world of digital identity, we can model ID attributes in the following ways:

  • The attribute itself (eg: name, age, gender, location, preferences) [1]

  • The extent to which the attribute can be validated [2]or  just inferred

  • How dynamic the attribute is (ie how often does it change )

Generally the more dynamic and validated the attribute, the more valuable it is.  This is because it is more difficult to fake, and more easily supports predictive analytics to deliver real-time service enrichment, or more secure access control.

What fits where

The below demonstrates each of the modelling areas in relation to the location attribute of an individual’s identity.  In this example you can see that their home location is an attribute that can be strongly validated and is static.  By comparison, searching online for holiday destinations creates an inference that they plan to travel to that destination at some point in the future.


[1] Attribute naming and taxonomies are not part of Spectrum and are normally created by individual organisations, groups operating under a trust framework, or within a federated identity market

[2] Validation and verification processes which might be multiple sources (eg address) might be a single trusted source (eg certification authority) or may even extend to full identity proofing process

Where providers want to be

Let’s now consider the organisations and entities that hold, maintain, and use ID attributes.  Where we see them playing is denoted by a hard line; where they seem to be moving is shown with a dotted line.

As you can see here, Government possesses some of the best ID attribute data in terms of validity (ie passports, NI, company taxation records) but the data is extremely static.  In order to combat fraud, Digital Government initiatives are forcing the requirement for availability of a wider range of citizen attributes.  This means that we will see classic static government attributes supplemented by dynamic attributes from commercial service providers. 

Internet players, on the other hand, hold a huge amount of inferred data (making assumptions on users based on search engine and cookie data – the lifeblood of online behavioural advertising) but to offer higher value services and increase the value of their attributes to other service providers, these players are increasing their level of validation and strengthening associated authentication services.  Internet Players are also pushing into other sectors by enabling customers to login to other services using their Internet ID’s (eg Facebook Connect; Google ID).  In this way they claim a greater share of the data business for those customers.

Different sectors' attribute on the SpectrumIdeas for Application

Using the model provides our clients with a fantastic opportunity to apply their own ideas and thinking, consider outcomes, and build offerings.  It also enables them to walk through potential applications of technology and consider the customer impact.  Looking at data that is already available but not yet connected, we can rapidly model scenarios that surface important (and sometimes moral) issues as shown below:

Opportunities for you

The Spectrum model has helped our clients:

  • Better understand the ID market

  • Undertake competitive analysis

  • Build offerings

  • Identify opportunities

Everything contained within this blog is free for you to use, and we’d be delighted to hear your views.  If you’d like to talk to the ij team about your own specific scenarios, or how the Spectrum model could develop your thinking and accelerate your results please get in touch.

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