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Smart Cards

Smart CardsHave you been to the Delhi Metro? To avoid those long exasperating queues to buy tickets most probably you had opted for Smart Cards to travel seamless. Or take another example of travelling on toll roads and stopping to pay toll. The moment you prefer to have a Contact-less Smart Card (CSC) or Smart Tag suddenly life becomes easier on the fast lane. A motorist with a Smart Tag is allowed to travel non-stop through the toll plaza with a minimum time taken to process the transaction.

A Smart Card in size and shape is like your normal Credit Card but its inside is altogether different. There is an embedded microprocessor inside. As compared to the magnetic strip technology the microprocessor on the smart card provides added security. In a Smart Card setup, the host computer and the card reader in essence talks to the microprocessor with the microprocessor providing access to the data on the card. Though the microprocessor embedded Smart Cards are very popular but there exists other variants too. They are memory cards and contactless cards.

Industry has long recognized its immense potential but its extensive use has been a comparatively recent phenomenon. The lead taken by the banking sector for various applications including online transactions and the fledgling health care industry for issuing health insurance cards. Keeping in view the immense potential of Smart card Technology, under the aegis of Department of Information Technology (DIT), development projects have been formulated and initiated to provide thrust to R&D, industrial activity and applications in this field. National Informatics Center worked along with other agencies to implement a Smart Card Operating Systems Standards, which is named Smart Card Operating System for Transport applications or SCOSTA in short. The same has been adopted by MoRT & H (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways) as a standard for Transport applications in the country. DIT has also supported a project on "Multi Application Smart Card Based Payment System" at IIT, Mumbai and IDRBT, Hyderabad. Some of the other projects currently underway include:

Next Generation Multi Application Smart Card Operating System

A project is currently underway at IIT, Kanpur and SCL, S.A.S. Nagar, Punjab for design and development of Next Generation Multi Application Smart Card Operating System Implementations for SCOSTA.Primarily the objectives of this project are enhancing of the SCOSTA Specifications, Reference Implementation, Compliance Test Kit and other associated tools to incorporate Contact-less interface, PKI and other requirements for catering to multi applications like projects on National ID and Micro e-Purse. The Contact less interface and PKI enhancements have already been developed and are being tested in application environment. The project is almost on the verge of completion.

Smart Card Readers and Terminal Standards

The main objectives of the Smart Card Readers and Terminal Standards being developed at IIT, Kanpur are to establish continuity with SCOSTA Card definitions and develop smart card terminal and reader specifications for the hardware and Operating System, including the standardized methods of programming to support SCOSTA based applications. The specifications have already been defined and reference implementation of terminal and reader developed. Terminal and reader is now being tested in an application environment for gauging its user-readiness.


For Further Information:
Mr. Ashok K. Sharma
Scientist 'G' & HOD
Telephone: +91-11 2436 4753
E-mail: ashoks[at]deity[dot]gov[dot]in