ID card

An Identification Card (or ID Card) is a government or corporate-issued card used to confirm the identity of an individual. ID Cards are automatically issued to all characters and have no cost to replace. Only one ID Card can be active for any given character; a lost card that is replaced is erased automatically the next time it is used.

Physical Description[edit | edit source]

An ID card is rectangular, measuring 8.6 x 5.5 x .8cm.[1]  The face of the card displays text information in a standardized format, which typically includes: a physical description (height, weight, skin/hair/eye color, etc) of the holder, a photographic image of the individual, the individual's hand-written signature and thumbprint, and text or graphics identifying the issuer of the card.  The back of the card may or may not contain additional information.

Evolution[edit | edit source]

Basic printed id card.

Early forms of ID cards are made of thick paper or cardstock, with the information physically printed on the card.  They contain the least amount of information and vary in content (such as lacking a photo, for example).  They are also the easiest to fake, and are consequently the least reliable. Additionally, they can only display a small amount of information, and require separate cards for different purposes (basic ID, vehicle operators' license, weapons permits, etc). As a final limitation, such cards must be re-done in their entirety if any of the information changes (name/address changes, etc).

Characters may encounter such ID on newly discovered, low-technology worlds.

Basic ID card with photo

An improved version of early ID card is also a paper/cardstock ID (this time with photo) that may be laminated in clear plastic for protection (and to prevent tampering). A further refinement of this type of card replaces laminated paper with hard plastic stock, which is much more durable. The early versions of these cards may not have a magnetic media strip on the back, but it becomes increasingly common over time. The magnetic strip holds a minimum amount of data to establish the authenticity of the card. 

Some issuers of this card replace the magnetic media with a printed barcode that serves the same purpose.  This is the earliest form of ID card that can be used as part of an electronics-based lock or security system. Like the more primitive form, multiple cards are still necessary for various uses. Again, any change in the information requires the issuance of a new card.

These sorts of ID are found on more-advanced, but still low-tech (by Frontier standards) worlds.

Modern UPF smart ID card blank. This one has professional credentials displayed as a default.

The next development in ID cards is the "smart card".  Physically, it resembles the later type of improved ID card in form and construction, but instead of a simple magnetic media stripe or barcode, the card contains one or more microchips that can store much more information.[2]  It is at this level of development that the card can be also used to store (among other things) a copy of medical records, credit/banking information, professional certifications and credentials, and so forth.[3]

Early smart cards retain printed information on the face of the card, but the data contained on the memory chip(s) can be updated as needed. This may on occasion result in a discrepancy between the printed and stored data, so individuals who have a significant change to their basic identification data (such as a name change) will normally obtain a new ID card to avoid confusion.

The most recent development in smart cards replaces the limited and fixed amount of information of an imprinted physical card with so-called "smart paper" or "electronic paper" technology.  This sort of ID card can be programmed to display a variety of configurations on demand to suit specialized purposes.  The default setting displays the same basic information as a physical card. 

ID card being inserted into a card reader.

An alternate version of advanced smart card displays nothing at all (to protect privacy) unless inserted into a special reader, which can be as small as a hand-held device not much larger than the card itself. This last form is of somewhat limited utility, especially on more primitive worlds where readers may not be available.

Use in the Frontier[edit | edit source]

ID cards, regardless of issuer, must conform to a common standard set by the UPF. Therefore, ID cards are near-universally accepted on Frontier worlds. An ID card can only be used by its owner. The computers which read ID cards also scan the holder's biometric key, or "bio-key". A bio-key may include a thumbprint scan, retinal scan, or voiceprint scan.[4]

ID card readout information

Since they are "smart" cards, ID cards are used for making purchases such as renting a vehicle or riding the monorail.[5] ID cards are also used to withdraw credits from personal accounts for conversion to "hard" currency for day to day purchases. Anyone may put credits into an account, but only the use of an ID card allows those credits to be withdrawn again.[6] Such usage is recorded, creating a trail of transactions that helps governments better track criminal activity.[7][8]

ID cards hold their bearers' medical records, including past injuries, illnesses, and cybernetics. An ID Card also maintains a record of its owner's registered Skill Ratings in order to determine fair daily wage.[9][10]

Privacy Concerns[edit | edit source]

Reading the personal records on an ID card requires a court order.

Notes & References[edit | edit source]

  1. Roughly the same size as a current-day ID card conforming to the ISO/IEC 7810 standard for an ID-1 level card. This is the sort of card depicted in the drawing in the Alpha Dawn Basic Rulebook.
  2. Many smart cards at this stage of development retain the magnetic media strip for occasions where a chip reader is not available.
  3. This is the level of development of the ID card as depicted in the Alpha Dawn rules.
  4. Alpha Dawn Basic Rulebook p.8
  5. Alpha Dawn Basic Rulebook p.9
  6. House Rule
  7. House Rule
  8. Despite this, corrupt governments, powerful corporations, and the criminal underworld have found ways to hide questionable transactions.
  9. This wage is determined by the Hireling Cost per Day table.
  10. The personal and medical records stored on an ID card are assumed to be copies of a master file that is centrally maintained. Otherwise replacing a lost/damaged ID card would take a considerable amount of effort. The amount of interplanetary/interstellar information transmission required is problematic, especially when considering the cost of subspace radio transmissions.
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