Smartcards, standards, e-Government vs e-anything that doesn't work

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 14 August 2003

Today The Guardian reported that the Government's e-Envoy office has been looking into the issue's surrounding the provision of 'smart cards' to deliver government services, and has found four obstacles to their widespread adoption. Of which two were the lack of open standards and data protection. The solution is to "standardise technology" by getting cards to adhere to an e-Gif standard [e-Governemnt interoperability framework].

Michael Cross expects the proposal to get a "roasting from the usual suspects". And he is right. e-Government smart ID cards by stealth.

However it did make me contrast my attitude towards this with my attitude to other smart cards. I still find it slightly creepy when the chip in my debit card is checked, but the magnetic swipe doesn't bother me. And despite being burned by early adoption before (you should see the large size of my digital camera and the infinitesimally small memory capacity of my mp3 player) I have been desperate to get a smart Oystercard to replace my London Transport travelcard. But in several attempts across the last month I have failed to get their e-commerce application to work.

Which tells me that e-Gif won't get anywhere unless the e-applications that are 'interoperable' are actually operable for the end user.

1 Comment

It's very strange going to one of the really big card purchase machines (you know, the ones with the built-in monitor) with your Oystercard, and being able to see the log of all the buses and tubes you've used it on. It's like watching the UPS tracking service - but on yourself.

Next time I see you, okay...

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