The future of smart card technology is here today or is it?


For many of us, smart cards are now part of our daily lives. We rely on the technology to catch a bus, enter our office buildings, access our computers at work and grab a snack from the vending machine.

And as smart card technology continues to evolve, new and imaginative ideas for smart card applications are swiftly becoming a reality.

A case in point: A local city government in South Africa was faced with security and efficiency challenges around its public parking spaces. Through an HID Global pilot program, motorists can now purchase a pre-loaded city parking card from retail outlets and after parking, the driver presents his/her city parking card to parking attendant who carries a GPS-enabled mobile reader. The reader sends an electronic message to the central station confirming that a vehicle will be parked on a particular street for a set period of time. When that time is up, a message is sent from the central station back to the parking attendant’s mobile reader indicating that the vehicle has outstayed its allotted time slot. The parking attendant can then return to ticket the car if necessary.

Another new and interesting use of smart card technology is in hospitals to make dispensing medicine to patients more secure. For example, a medicine cabinet would be fitted with reader technology and then wirelessly connected to software that links to personal dosage information stored on an RFID wristband. So if a patient needs to take one tablet at six o’clock in the morning, the software will communicate with the cabinet to indicate that the patient needs to access their medicine. The patient then presents their wristband to the cabinet reader, allowing them to open it and take their prescribed medication at the correct time.

Smart card technology is also getting attention from the fleet management sector, where RFID is already being installed in rental cars. The idea is that a rental car could be parked on the street corner and is accessed simply by presenting an RFID-enabled card to a reader installed in the window screen. With HID technology, HID Global’s partners are working with some major car rental companies interested in leveraging the benefits of this technology to streamline the management of their fleets.

The scope for smart card technology to improve access control and increase efficiencies and convenience is virtually unbounded. As we continue to search for ways to run our busy lives more safely and smoothly, it seems likely that the potential for smart cards to help us do just that will be limited only by our imagination.