(Past illustrations) Deriving determinants of bid prices

(This past illustration describes something that I performed in my career, either for a Bredemarket client, for an employer, or as a volunteer. The entity for which I performed the work, or proposed to perform the work, is not listed for confidentiality reasons.)

PROBLEM

For a particular product line, a company wanted to know which variables could be used to predict how a particular bid would be priced.

By Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18185578

SOLUTION

Using data from FOIA requests, I identified and collected variables that were perceived to have an effect on bid price. In addition to the final price for each bid, I also collected relevant technical requirements from the bid, customer characteristics, bid evaluation scores where available, and other data.

After I collected the data, my colleague analyzed the data statistically, both to try to derive equations that fit the data, and also to illustrate the data in graphical form.

RESULTS

For this particular product line, the data did not closely correlate to any particular equation that could be used to predict bid price. (A separate analysis of a different product line yielded better correlation results.)

If you have a paid version of Microsoft Office 365, you have an audio transcription tool

I’ve been meaning to write about the tools that I’ve found to be most useful in my Bredemarket work, but I’ve never gotten around to actually write about them. Maybe one of the companies will sponsor my post or something.

Well, this post isn’t a sponsored post, because I don’t think that Microsoft regards me as an important enough influencer to throw money Bredemarket’s way. But I recently used a Microsoft feature to save myself some significant time on a client project.

As part of the work that I do for one of my clients, I participate in half-hour interviews with the client’s customers and ask them questions about the client’s software. Before the interview begins, the client asks the customer for permission to record the conversation. After the interview is over, I can then refer to that recording to extract nuggets of information.

You can imagine the process.

  • Advance two minutes on the recording to get past the preliminaries.
  • Listen for a few seconds.
  • Fast forward 30 seconds.
  • Fast forward 30 seconds again.
  • Oh, that’s good! Back up 10 seconds.
  • Listen for a few seconds while typing.
  • Stop.
  • Listen and type more.
  • Fast forward 30 seconds.

As you can see, it takes a while. So I began thinking about transcribing the recording to make things easier.

My first attempt didn’t go so well. I opened up a copy of Microsoft Word on my computer and opened up the recording, then I pressed Word’s “Dictate” button while starting the recording.

Good idea in theory, but it didn’t work in practice. And even if it had worked, it would have taken 30 minutes to dictate the entire interview.

So I did some research and found this article from Beebom. It described a “transcribe” feature in Microsoft Word, but you could only use it under certain conditions.

  • You have to have a paid version of Microsoft Office 365.
  • You have to use the web version of Word, not the on-computer version.
  • Your audio file cannot be larger than 200 megabytes.
  • Your audio has doesn’t have to be in the English language. While this was apparently true at the time the Beebom article was written, it looks like the transcription software now supports dozens of languages.
  • You cannot transcribe more than five hours’ worth of audio in any month.

I was able to meet all of these conditions, luckily. When you use the online version of Word, the “Dictate” button becomes a “Dictate/Transcribe” button, allowing you to upload an audio file to OneDrive and then transcribe it.

Transcription is much faster than real time. In my case, the service transcribed 30 minutes’ worth of audio in a few minutes.

You can then save the transcription to Microsoft Word (cloud or on-premise), and can include timestamps if you desire. The transcription also attempts to identify speakers separately.

I can say that the transcription was fairly good. I did not need five nines’ accuracy on the transcription; I just needed to figure out what we were talking about. And if I had needed to clean up any portion of the transcript, the timestamps could guide me to the exact place in the audio.

So this provided time savings for me, and also provided benefits for my client, since I was able to easily identify more “nuggets of information” than I could have the old fashioned way.

Now there are certainly other services out there, and this particular service isn’t technically a free service (since I had to pay for the Microsoft Office 365 subscription), but in certain cases transcription services are worth the money you paid for them.

Shorter and sweeter? The benefits of benefits for identity firms

Repurposing is fun.

Remember the four posts that I wrote earlier this week about communicating benefits to identity customers? Well, I just summarized all four of the posts on a single page on the Bredemarket website, The benefits of benefits for identity firms.

(And now I’m repurposing that page into a single, short blog post.)

The page concludes with a question:

Why is Bredemarket the best choice to help your identity firm communicate its benefits?

  • No identity learning curve.
  • I’ve probably communicated in the format you need.
  • I work with you.
  • I can package my offering to meet your needs.

For the complete page, click here. And if you are an identity firm that needs my services, contact me.

Communicating benefits (not features) to identity customers (Part 4 of 3)

[Link to part 1] | [Link to part 2] | [Link to part 3]

I knew I’d think of something else after I thought this whole post series was complete. But this post will be brief.

Benefit statements are not only affected by the target customers, but are also affected by the “personality” of the company stating the benefits.

As we all know, different companies use different tones of voice in their communications. A benefit statement from Procter & Gamble will read differently than a benefit statement from Apple, for example.

With that in mind, let’s turn to the example that I used in the third post in this series-namely, that the benefit of a one-second response time for computer aided dispatch (CAD) systems is that it keeps people from dying.

Death personified in Punch. By Punch Magazine – Original: Cartoon from Punch Magazine, Volume 35 Page 137; 10 July 1858 This copy: City and Water Blog, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4465060

Not all companies are going to be that blunt about this particular benefit.

To my knowledge, SCC, Printrak, or Motorola have never explicitly talked about avoiding death as a benefit or their computer aided dispatch systems. Perhaps there IS a CAD company that does this, though.

This is why the development of benefit statements is often a collaborative affair, in part to ensure that the benefit statements align with the character of the company issuing them. Imagine the reaction if P&G promoted one of its soap products with a high-tech advertisement loudly proclaiming “PURPLE!” like the recent Apple ad.

Procter & Gamble ads are usually a bit more restrained.

Well, at least they used to be.

To be frank, Procter & Gamble is better at explicitly stating benefits than Apple is. Saving $100 a year on your energy bill is a benefit; purple is not. But Apple is communicating an implicit “Apple owners are cooler than mere mortals” benefit. Cold vs. cool, I guess, as well as an entirely different definition of “identity” that doesn’t rely on individualization. (If thousands of people have purple iPhones, this fact cannot be used to individually identify them.)

So you not only have to know your customer, but you need to know yourself so that you can describe benefits that are important to your customer in a voice that is accurate to your company’s “personality.”

This is why Bredemarket uses an iterative process in developing communications for its clients. If you’re an identity product/service provider that needs help in communicating customer benefits in proposals, case studies, white papers, blog posts, and similar written output, Bredemarket can implement such an iterative process to help you develop that output. Contact me.

Communicating benefits (not features) to identity customers (Part 3 of 3)

[Link to part 1] | [Link to part 2] | [Link to part 4]

NOTE: After publishing the second post in this series, but before publishing this third post, I ran across other people in the identity industry who were asking the “So what?” question, but from a strategic perspective rather than a sales enablement perspective. I discuss this in my personal JEBredCal blog, in this post.

This is a continuation of two previous posts. In the first and second posts in this series, I initially explained the difference between benefits and features, and why you sometimes have to act like an irritating two-year old to convert a feature into a benefit (the “so what?” test). I also explained how benefit statements need to be tailored to particular stakeholders, and how there can be many stakeholders even for a simple procurement.

I promised in the second post that I planned to dive into issues more specific to identity customers, such as when a two hour response time matters, when a one minute response time matters, and when a one second response time matters. Unfortunately, I spent so much time talking about all the stakeholders that I never got around to that particular question.

I promise that I’ll get into it right now.

Two hours vs. one minute vs. one second

You may remember that in the first post, I listed several things that some people thought were benefits, but were actually features. The final three items in that list were the following:

  • This product can complete its processing in less than two hours.
  • This product can complete its processing in less than a minute.
  • This product can complete its processing in less than a second.

These feature statements are very similar, yet at the same time very different. As you might have guessed, these feature statements are associated with three different products that are targeted to different markets.

Two hours: rapid DNA

I already alluded to the first of the three feature statements, two hour response time, in an earlier post in this series. Although I didn’t say so that the time, this is an important feature for the “rapid DNA” systems sold by Thermo Fisher Scientific and ANDE. These systems are used for multiple purposes, including

  • examining crime scene DNA evidence,
  • identifying deceased disaster victims, and
  • checking to see if arrested individuals are wanted for more serious crimes.

The two hour rapid DNA processing time offers different benefits for these different use cases.

  • As I previously stated in my first example of a “so what?” test, the ability to run rapid DNA at booking keeps dangerous criminals from being released by identifying those who are wanted for serious crimes.
  • A two hour processing time for crime scene evidence solves crimes more quickly, and again potentially puts dangerous criminals in jail more quickly.
  • A two hour response for disaster victim identification brings peace of mind to family members whose relatives may have perished in a disaster.

Depending upon the target audience, a rapid DNA vendor must tailor its benefit statements accordingly.

One minute: real time AFIS

Next, I want to look at the one minute response time, which is something that I used to talk about over twenty-five years ago when “real time AFIS” became a reality.

Because of the limitations of early computers, it used to take hours or days to compare the features from a latent fingerprint against the features of fingerprints in a database of known criminals. The old computers, even when souped up with special processing equipment such as hardware matchers and hardware fingerprint processors, took a long time to perform all of the calculations needed to compare a fingerprint’s features against hundreds of thousands of other fingerprint features.

Around the time that I joined Printrak, real time AFIS became a reality, where it became cost-effective and technologically feasible to size systems to deliver those fingerprint matching results in a minute. Today, the FBI’s Repository for Individuals of Special Concern (RISC) advertises that it can identify high-priority criminals within seconds.

At the time (1994), real time AFIS was a big deal, and the proposals that I helped to write emphasized that crimes could be solved more quickly (for latent/crime scene fingerprint searches), and individuals could be identified more quickly (for tenprint/booking searches).

One second: computer aided dispatch

To explain the third feature statement about one second response times, I have to fast forward three years to 1997, when the company then known as Printrak acquired the computer aided dispatch (CAD) and records management systems (RMS) unit of SCC Communications Corp. Printrak acquired other companies that year, but the SCC acquisition ended up being the most important, since it led to Printrak’s acquisition by Motorola.

(Allow me to go off on a tangent for a minute. When Motorola sold the biometric part of the business to Safran, it chose to retain the CAD and RMS portions, which remain part of Motorola Solutions’ portfolio today. One other tidbit: one of the key SCC people who joined Printrak at the time eventually left Motorola, and now works for rapid DNA vendor ANDE. As we Californians would say, it’s a small world after all.)

Now while there are some parallels between CAD and the systems then known as automated FINGERPRINT identification systems (AFIS), there are some key differences in the markets that the two products address. We on the AFIS side learned this the hard way when we introduced ourselves to our new colleagues.

“Hi, SCC folks, welcome to Printrak. You’re joining a company that sells REAL TIME AFIS that delivers results within one minute! Aren’t you impressed?”

A screenshot of computer-aided dispatch as being used by Toronto Fire Services. By Hillelfrei – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88913432

The ex-SCC people responded, gently disabusing us of our pretensions to speed.

“Hello, new corporate overlords. We provide computer aided dispatch systems that send police, fire, and medical personnel to crime scenes and emergency sites as soon as possible. If our CAD systems took AN ENTIRE MINUTE to dispatch personnel, PEOPLE WOULD DIE. We use really powerful computers to get personnel dispatched in a second. Enjoy your real time AFIS…amateurs.”

So the company Printrak learned that it needed separate benefit statements, depending upon the product line the company was promoting at any given time. The CAD customers received one set of benefit statements, while the AFIS customers received a separate set.

Conclusion (finally)

In short, you have to know your customer so that you can describe benefits that are important to your customer.

And if you’re an identity product/service provider that needs help in communicating customer benefits in proposals, case studies, white papers, blog posts, and similar written output, Bredemarket can help. Contact me.

Communicating benefits (not features) to identity customers (Part 2 of 3)

[Link to part 1] | [Link to part 3] | [Link to part 4]

This is a continuation of a previous post, in which I explained the difference between benefits and features, and why you sometimes have to act like an irritating two-year old to convert a feature into a benefit (the “so what?” test).

As I promised in that previous post, I plan to dive into issues more specific to identity customers, such as when a two hour response time matters, when a one minute response time matters, and when a one second response time matters.

Who are identity customers?

Before I dive into response times, let’s explain who identity customers are, because not all identity customers are alike.

When I use the term “identity” at Bredemarket, I am referring to any technology that can be used to identify an individual. This does not just relate to biometrics (fingerprint identification, facial recognition, etc.), but to any of the five factors of authentication that can identify an individual. A physical or digital driver’s license. A fob. A secret handshake. A geographic location. Even a password.

Obviously there are a ton of customers that use identification technologies, and they care about a ton of things.

Well, what if we focus our discussion and talk about a SINGLE product, such as automated biometric identification systems (ABIS)? We can market to all ABIS customers with a single set of benefit statements, right?

Um, no.

ABIS can be sold to all sorts of different customers, ranging from local police agencies to state welfare benefit administrators to national passport issuing agencies.

Well, what if we focus our discussion and talk about a SINGLE type of customer for a single product, such as the local law enforcement agencies that buy ABIS? We can market to all local law enforcement ABIS customers with a single set of benefit statements, right?

Um, no.

If I am going to sell an ABIS to the city of Ontario, California (sorry Thales), these are the types of customers that I have to cover with separate benefit statements:

By FBI – http://www.fbi.gov/news/photos, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18500900
  • The field investigators who run across biometric evidence at the scene of a crime, such as a knife with a fingerprint on it or a video feed showing someone breaking into a liquor store.
  • The examiners who look at crime scene evidence and use it to identify individuals.
  • The people who capture biometrics from arrested individuals at livescan stations.
  • The information technologies (IT) people who are responsible for ensuring that Ontario, California’s biometric data is sent to San Bernardino County, the state of California, perhaps other systems such as the Western Identification Network, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • The purchasing agent who has to make sure that all of Ontario’s purchases comply with purchasing laws and regulations.
  • The privacy advocate who needs to ensure that the biometric data complies with state and national privacy laws.
  • The mayor (Paul Leon as I write this), who has to deal with angry citizens asking why their catalytic converters are being stolen from their vehicles, and demanding to know what the mayor is doing about it.
  • Probably a dozen other stakeholders that I haven’t talked about yet, but who are influenced by the city’s purchasing decision.

As you can see, there are a ton of people who are going to read a proposal to provide an ABIS to a city, and they all have differing needs that need to be addressed…and different benefits that have to be emphasized.

Benefits of a feature are customer-dependent

Now let’s take one of my feature statements from my first post and try to convert it to a benefit for one or more of these stakeholders. I’m going to choose this one:

  • This product captures latent fingerprints at 1000 pixels per inch.

Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that 1000 ppi latent fingerprint capture doesn’t make a bit of difference to the majority of the stakeholders. Paul Leon isn’t going to care. The purchasing agent SHOULD care (1000 ppi data requires more storage than 500 ppi data, which translates to more cost), but probably isn’t going to know that he/she should care.

With the possible exception of the IT personnel, the only people that care about 1000 ppi capture are the examiners who use crime scene evidence and use it to identify individuals. And needless to say, the examiners that concentrate on face or iris or voice or DNA data aren’t going to care about a fingerprint capture specification.

So if I’m writing a proposal to the city of Ontario, California, I’m going to make sure that the latent fingerprint capture section of the proposal discusses my product’s ability to capture latent fingerprints at 1000 ppi.

Wait for it…

SO WHAT?

Absent the benefit of standards compliance that ensures that Ontario data can be processed by state and national systems, the chief benefit of 1000 ppi latent fingerprint capture is that it provides a higher probability that examiners can positively identify criminals and solve more crimes.

An explanation: because latent fingerprints are often of poor quality – the criminals don’t usually take the time to ensure that the fingerprint evidence they leave at crime scenes is readable – latent examiners often benefit from having higher-resolution 1000 ppi latent fingerprint images, rather than the lower-resolution 500 ppi latent fingerprint images that were common in 20th century fingerprint systems. This higher resolution can make it easier for a latent fingerprint examiner to match a latent to a criminal’s tenprint fingerprint from a previous arrest, leading to the “solve more crimes” benefit.

So you’re going to come up with separate benefit statements for examiners, separate ones for livescan operators, and separate benefit statements for each of the stakeholders. And each of these benefits will be enumerated in the section of the proposal that the individual stakeholder will read. (News flash: hardly anyone reads the entire proposal; they only read the section that pertains to them.)

What’s next?

Well, I never got around to my two hour vs. one minute vs. one second question, and this post is getting long, so I guess I’ll address that topic in a third post.

In the meantime, if you’re an identity product/service provider that needs help in communicating customer benefits in proposals, case studies, white papers, blog posts, and similar written output, Bredemarket can help. Contact me.

Communicating benefits (not features) to identity customers (Part 1 of 3)

[Link to part 2] | [Link to part 3] | [Link to part 4]

I wanted to take some time to specifically explain how to communicate benefits to identity customers. And I’ll take a lot of time, addressing the topic in three planned posts.

What are benefits?

When you write a proposal, case study, or other document that is targeted to identity customers, you need to communicate the benefits to the target audience.

But what are benefits?

It turns out that many people don’t know what benefits are.

Over the years I’ve had occasion to ask people to suggest some benefits to include in a document. Sometimes I’ve received responses that are similar to these:

  • This product is dual-purpose and supports both detection of speeders and detection of red light runners.
  • This product captures latent fingerprints at 1000 pixels per inch.
  • This product was a top tier performer in the recent NIST tests.
  • This product can complete its processing in less than two hours.
  • This product can complete its processing in less than a minute.
  • This product can complete its processing in less than a second.

These are all nice statements, but these aren’t BENEFIT statements.

These are statements of FEATURES.

The last three examples illustrate the issue. In certain markets, a two hour response time is very impressive In other markets, a one minute response time will result in getting somebody killed. (I’ll address the differences later.)

In my recent post about case studies, I linked to a Hubspot article that explained the difference between benefits and features. I didn’t dive into that article at the time, but I’ll do so now. Here is how Kayla Carmichael’s article explains the difference between the two.

Features describe what the product does, setting it apart from the competition. Benefits describe how the product can help the audience. For marketing messages, it’s typically better to go with a benefits-heavy approach, because benefits are what makes consumers purchase.

The “so what?” test

As you can see, benefits are customer-centric. In another Hubsport article, Aja Frost notes that one way to tell whether you’re dealing with a benefit or a feature is to ask the question “So what?”

Let’s return to my first example above, “This product is dual-purpose and supports both detection of speeders and detection of red light runners.” Even if you’re a road safety customer, you may not care whether a particular device is dual-purpose or not.

Maybe you don’t care about both issues at a particular location on the road. If the road safety camera is placed on an interstate highway, red lights are obviously not an issue.

Maybe you don’t care about one of the issues at all. Perhaps local laws don’t allow for unmonitored devices that detect speeders.

Perhaps your agency doesn’t care if you have to put two devices—one for speed detection, one for red light detection—at the same location.

So if you encounter a statement that isn’t a benefit, you have to act like an irritating two-year old and ask “so what?” until you actually get a benefit statement.

By Mindaugas Danys from Vilnius, Lithuania, Lithuania – scream and shout, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44907034

This product can complete its processing in less than two hours.

SO WHAT?

“This product can complete its processing while the arrestee is still in custody, before the suspect is released.”

SO WHAT?

“This product can detect whether the arrestee is wanted for more serious charges while the arrestee is still in custody.”

SO WHAT?

“This product can identify arrestees who have outstanding warrants for murder before they are released to murder more people.”

That’s better.

What’s next?

Anyway, that’s the general concept of benefits vs. features. In a future post, I’ll dive into issues more specific to identity customers, such as when a two hour response time matters, when a one minute response time matters, and when a one second response time matters.

These differences make all the…um difference to identity customers.

Stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you’re an identity product/service provider that needs help in communicating customer benefits in proposals, case studies, white papers, blog posts, and similar written output, Bredemarket can help. Contact me.

California Assembly Bill 5—I mean 2257—and business-to-business exemptions

On Thursday, I attended an Orange County Freelancers Union meeting that focused on California Assembly Bill 5. The presentation was given by Lee Goldberg. I’ve talked about Assembly Bill 5 before, most notably regarding how Proposition 22 affected it, but I definitely learned something from Goldberg’s presentation.

Namely, that it’s technically incorrect to talk about Assembly Bill 5.

Whoops.

That bill was superseded by a subsequent bill, Assembly Bill 2257. It preserves the basic structure of AB5, but tweaks things in various ways. (And of course AB2257 was subsequently tweaked by Proposition 22.)

So henceforth when I’m referring to the bill text, I need to refer to the right bill. The text for AB2257 is here. This was incorporated into the California Labor Code as seen here.

Goldberg briefly alluded to the business-to-business exemption discussed on AB2257. It has a number of points, and for my own education I subsequently took the time to read all the points, just to make sure that Bredemarket complies with the business-to-business exemption.

So let’s look at the business-to-business exemption in California Labor Code [2776]. Warning I am lot a lawyer bla bla bla.

2776.

Section 2775 and the holding in Dynamex do not apply to a bona fide business-to-business contracting relationship, as defined below, under the following conditions:

(a) If an individual acting as a sole proprietor, or a business entity formed as a partnership, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or corporation (“business service provider”) contracts to provide services to another such business or to a public agency or quasi-public corporation (“contracting business”), the determination of employee or independent contractor status of the business services provider shall be governed by Borello, if the contracting business demonstrates that all of the following criteria are satisfied:

What follows are the 12 points that relate to the business-to-business exemption.

(1) The business service provider is free from the control and direction of the contracting business entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact.

So I started to look at each of these 12 points to see whether I thought my independent contracting business Bredemarket was compliant with them, starting with this first point. Those who are familiar with the ABC criteria have already seen a version of this. Perhaps the best way to summarize this is that a Bredemarket client can ask me to do work, but can’t tell me HOW to do the work. In fact, in some cases I tell the client how I am going to do the work.

(2) The business service provider is providing services directly to the contracting business rather than to customers of the contracting business. This subparagraph does not apply if the business service provider’s employees are solely performing the services under the contract under the name of the business service provider and the business service provider regularly contracts with other businesses.

This was another thing that impacted me from hearing Goldberg’s presentation. This was a little unclear in the ABC statement, but is clarified here.

For example, if Bredemarket contracts with a biometrics firm that sells gait recognition software to school districts, I can provide writing services to the firm (even if the firm employs other writers), but I (generally) can’t sell gait recognition software to school districts.

(3) The contract with the business service provider is in writing and specifies the payment amount, including any applicable rate of pay, for services to be performed, as well as the due date of payment for such services.

All of the Bredemarket contracts are in writing.

(4) If the work is performed in a jurisdiction that requires the business service provider to have a business license or business tax registration, the business service provider has the required business license or business tax registration.

Bredemarket has both the required city business license and the appropriate tax registration. (And a filed and published fictitious business name statement.) My city business license has some very specific stipulations, including one stating that my clients cannot come to the place where I work. Revelation: I do not work in the UPS Store that serves as my business address. I work in a room of my own home. As the City of Ontario knows, I work in a specific 25 square foot area in my own home. They have the map and everything.

(5) The business service provider maintains a business location, which may include the business service provider’s residence, that is separate from the business or work location of the contracting business.

See above. None of my clients is located either in my home or in the UPS Store. In fact, none of my clients is within 20 miles of my home or in the UPS Store. (I did try to solicit business from one company with a mailing address at that same location, but I haven’t won that client…yet.)

(6) The business service provider is customarily engaged in an independently established business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

See “What I Do.”

(7) The business service provider can contract with other businesses to provide the same or similar services and maintain a clientele without restrictions from the hiring entity.

I contract with multiple businesses without restriction, and in fact once had to refuse business from a potential client because the client’s contract had a non-compete clause which would have effectively put Bredemarket out of business. As anyone with an MBA knows, going out of business is usually not a good thing…although Transformco seems to have a sunny attitude about the continuing demise of Sears and Kmart.

(8) The business service provider advertises and holds itself out to the public as available to provide the same or similar services.

Um…yeah. Website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Anchor, and other places.

(9) Consistent with the nature of the work, the business service provider provides its own tools, vehicles, and equipment to perform the services, not including any proprietary materials that may be necessary to perform the services under the contract.

Done.

In fact, when I started out, another independent contractor insisted to me that I should NOT provide my own tools, and that my clients should provide them. Needless to say, this other independent contractor does not live in California, because that would result in a clear ABC violation.

(10) The business service provider can negotiate its own rates.

Subject to the free market, yes. (Still waiting for that $10,000 per hour client.)

(11) Consistent with the nature of the work, the business service provider can set its own hours and location of work.

Definitely true, since much of my independent contracting work is…independent. If a client has requested a weekly meeting every Thursday morning on a project, I could choose to do all of my work Wednesday night if I so desired. (I don’t.) And I have worked in a variety of locations, including the parking lot of a business in California, and a spare bedroom in Alabama. I’ve known others who travel around and contract in Central America or wherever, but I haven’t done that. Yet.

(12) The business service provider is not performing the type of work for which a license from the Contractors’ State License Board is required, pursuant to Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 7000) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code.

My marketing and writing services do not require a license.

So after listening to Lee Goldberg’s presentation and perform some post-presentation research, I feel more confident that Bredemarket isn’t in danger of running afoul of employee classifications.

Hopefully I’m not being overconfident.

The Digital Green Certificate (EU Green Pass), for and against

So I attended the ID4Africa webcast that discussed vaccination certificates, including its discussion of harmonization of the myriad of certificates—a topic that clearly interests me.

If you didn’t already hear this on my recent podcast (microcast?) episode, Pavlina Navratilova of IDEMIA discussed three vaccination certificate standards that affect Europeans. One of these is the Digital Green Certificate, also known as the EU Green Pass.

In this post I’ll explain what the Digital Green Certificate is, why some people think it is essential to the continuance of civilization, and why some people think it destroys civilization as we know it.

Or something like that.

What is the Digital Green Certificate?

First, a clarification. The word “green” in Digital Green Certificate does not refer to saving the whales. It refers to “green means go” in terms of COVID-19. Specifically, a Digital Green Certificate is a digital proof that a person has either

tick iconbeen vaccinated against COVID-19
tick iconreceived a negative test result or 
tick iconrecovered from COVID-19

The certificate will also be available in paper format for us old-school types, but the digital version is what interests me.

The certificate will not be issued by the EU itself, but by entities within each EU country such as health authorities or individual hospitals. The certificate will be in a person’s national language and in English (for those who have forgotten, English is no longer a national language within the European Union due to Brexit).

Each certificate will contain a QR code to ensure authenticity, and these QR codes will be tracked at the EU level.

Each issuing body (e.g. a hospital, a test centre, a health authority) has its own digital signature key. All of these are stored in a secure database in each country.

The European Commission will build a gateway. Through this gateway, all certificate signatures can be verified across the EU. The personal data encoded in the certificate does not pass through the gateway, as this is not necessary to verify the digital signature. The  Commission will also help Member States to develop a software that authorities can use to check the QR codes.

The idea is that any EU citizen can provide national proof of vaccination, negative test, or recovery from COVID and that this national proof will be accepted in any other EU country, subject to the specific rules of that country.

On the other hand, the EU does not want to restrict freedom of movement within the EU.

The Digital Green Certificate should facilitate free movement inside the EU. It will not be a pre-condition to free movement, which is a fundamental right in the EU.

For more details on the plans for the Digital Green Certificate, see this European Commission page. Work continues to get the Digital Green Certificate up and running, including approval of technical specifications.

Entities supporting the Digital Green Certificate

Like anything COVID-related, there are entities that support the Digital Green Certificate, and entities that oppose it.

One group of entities that supports the Digital Green Certificate is the European airline industry. Because of the adverse economic effects of COVID travel restrictions, the airline industry not only wants Digital Green Certificates, but it wants them in time for the summer travel season. Here’s an excerpt from a statement from Airlines for Europe (A4E):

A4E welcomed today’s decision by the European Parliament to fast-track the European Commission’s Digital Green Certificates proposal using an Urgent Procedure. A positive decision by the European Council later today would set in motion a vote on the certificates by the end of April, facilitating the European Commission’s plan to have the certificates operational by June….

“With vaccination programmes underway, I am even more confident travel will be possible this summer. Airlines are ready to re-connect Europe and support economic recovery. I look forward to working with A4E members and policy leaders on this critical work ahead”, (A4E Chairman John) Lundgren added.

The “get people on flights” message is loud and clear.

And it’s not just the airlines; this initiative is also supported by the World Travel and Tourism Council and European Travel Commission. And the European Tourism Manifesto. And the European Exhibition Industry Alliance.

And (most importantly!) the general concept is supported by Vince, who though he is no longer in the EU (did I mention Brexit?), wrote this back in April:

#vaccinationcertificates The reason we need mandatory #vaccinationcards is because of the #superspreaders who demonstrated yesterday. Banning them from #pubs#football.#holidays#events etc will force #covididiots to adhere to the rules or stay at home. @LBC

And then there is the view of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). They support the idea, but with some qualifications:

Andrea Jelinek, Chair of the EDPB, said: “A Digital Green Certificate that is accepted in all Member States can be a major step forward in re-starting travel across the EU. Any measure adopted at national or EU level that involves processing of personal data must respect the general principles of effectiveness, necessity and proportionality. Therefore, the EDPB and the EDPS recommend that any further use of the Digital Green Certificate by the Member States must have an appropriate legal basis in the Member States and all the necessary safeguards must be in place.”

Wojciech Wiewiórowski, EDPS, said: It must be made clear that the Proposal does not allow for – and must not lead to – the creation of any sort of central database of personal data at EU level. In addition, it must be ensured that personal data is not processed any longer than what is strictly necessary and that access to and use of this data is not permitted once the pandemic has ended. I have always stressed that measures taken in the fight against COVID-19 are temporary and it is our duty to ensure that they are not here to stay after the crisis.”

This raises an interesting point that was also raised (after I left) in the ID4Africa webinar: what will happen to the Digital Green Certificate in the long term? The attendees were polled on this question.

Obviously the EDPB and EDPS prefer option 3, in which the Digital Green Certificate disappears once the pandemic is over.

Entities opposing the Digital Green Certificate

But not everyone believes that the Digital Green Certificate is a wonderful thing. Take the attitude of the the Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM), as expressed in a liberties.eu post.

As NJCM explains in a letter to the European Parliament, the EU has set up a system and infrastructure for Green Certificates, but only partially regulates the use of these Green Certificates. This leaves it up to member states to make their use mandatory, or to use Green Certificates in many more areas than just border control. Such mandatory use of Green Certificates may limit the freedom of movement, the right to not be discriminated against, the right to privacy, the right to data protection and, indirectly, the right to the integrity of the person (since the ability to travel is made conditional on undergoing testing or vaccination).

While the UK is (as I may have previously mentioned) outside of the EU, that country’s National Museum Directors’ Council has weighed in on the concept of vaccination certificates in general. Unlike airlines that believe that such certificates will encourage travel, the museum directors think these certificates will actually restrain it.

In the UK, where a government consultation on vaccine passports has proved controversial, a coalition of leading museum directors has spoken out against their potential use in museums. Such a scheme “sits at odds with the public mission and values of museums”, the National Museum Directors’ Council said, warning that it would constitute “an inappropriate form of exclusion and discrimination”. 

And, to be truthful, the existence of any type of vaccine certificate allows a distinction between those who are (believed to be) COVID-free and those who are not. You can use the emotionally-charged word “discrimination” or the less-charged “distinction,” but either way you’re dividing people into two groups.

The only way to remove such a distinction is to automatically assume that everyone has COVID. That could close the museums

…but at least everyone will be treated equally without discrimination. So that’s a good thing…I guess…

ID4Africa Livecast, “Vaccination Certificates and Identity Management”

Since I’ve discussed vaccination certificates in the past (most recently here), I thought I should alert you of an event later this week that covers the topic.

Parts 1 & 2 of our trilogy on Vaccination Certificates & Identity Management have set the pace for discussions on policy deliberations and innovative solutions in the development of COVID verifiable credentials. Both events continue to be praised as being our best series yet and… there’s still more to come!

Join your host, Dr. Joseph Atick, for a series finale, tour de force coverage on CV19 credentials where he shifts gears with a league of domain experts in a live collaboration searching for a framework for harmonizing national, regional and international efforts in this domain.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, May 6, from 12:30-14:30 GMT (or 14:30-16:30 CEST). That translates to 5:30 am in my timezone, but it looks like there will be a replay if I oversleep.

If you want to attend live, register here.