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North Carolina easily pivoted to online driver’s permit applications, virtual queueing and automated license and tag renewals, a state government official says.
After Covid-19 shuttered physical offices, state motor vehicle departments had to find new ways of doing business.
Some states used artificial intelligence to validate documents and accelerate Real ID applications, while others focused on improving customer experience by digitizing driver’s permit applications and automating license renewals. The North Carolina DMV’s pivot to virtual services was easier because it had previously modernized its customer-facing portal.
The state’s graduated driver’s license system requires learner’s permit holders to renew three times before they are granted a full provisional license. All drivers must renew their licenses, on a five to eight year timeframe, depending on their age.
This factor prompted officials to anticipate an impending surge in DMV visits, NCDOT Secretary Eric Boyette said at the April 7 GovExec CX Summit.
“We knew that we needed to get ahead of it. Otherwise, we would have longer lines at the DMV than we can handle,” he said. “We had already started looking to the future [and asked questions like] where are the residents? What are they looking for out of the DMV?”
The MyNCDMV portal helped officials engage with citizens and push out initiatives like virtual queueing and driver’s license and vehicle registration renewals well before the virus took hold in March 2020, Boyette said.
The portal also allowed officials to test the best way to connect with drivers.
“On any renewal, whether it be your car tag or your driver's license, if we have an email or a phone number that we can text, we will be glad to send that information ahead of time to let you know because you may not receive that information via mail,” he said, adding that the state currently runs a campaign to explain why DOT officials are asking for drivers’ contact information.
On the security front, Boyette noted DMV has multiple safeguards in place, including “some data filtering” to help with identification and “ensure the right people are accessing the data.'' DMV also employs multi-factor authentication and encryption.
“There are a lot of protections in the background and in front that help us with that, and we are always monitoring [with features like] automatic alerting, audit tracking—the things that you would expect from a private company,” Boyette said. “We mirror that here in our state government.”