Let's play our card right
[Re]designing the Romanian ID card
Published in DoR #5, spring 2011
In the same way a change of name can attract a certain change in reality, design has the power to transform perceptions. We chose a subject (and both an object) apparently insignificant, that we always carry around and is often the first answer to a foreign authority’s question: Who are you? What is more intimately connected to a citizen’s identity than his ID card?
A well designed and quality made document would change the foreign perception about Romanians, as well as our own perception about how much the authorities respect us. A common excuse for ugly design is that we don’t have the money to do it. It’s a fact that producing an ugly ID card costs the same amount as producing a well designed one. Of course, adding additional elements (electronic chip, etc.) would raise costs, but it would counterforce in utility. We suggest here a new design of the ID card—out of esthetic considerations, but mostly out of an informational architecture and clarity, as well as for offering a higher utility to its carrier.
We reduced the enormous existing ID card to the standard dimensions of ID-1 (85,60 × 53,98 mm). The standard is used for ID cards, banking cards and drivers licenses in EU countries, Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and the US. The ID-I format is used for ID cards in Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Ecuador, Estonia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Serbia and Switzerland. (The only element according to the standard in the Romanian ID Card is the corner radius: 3,18 mm.)
On the front of the card, we introduced in a noticeable place the date of birth. The Romanian youth studying abroad or traveling know that the Romanian ID card is the only one that cannot be used to prove you are over 18 because the birth date is not listed anywhere—a nervous bouncer is rarely eager to hear your story about the CNP (numerical personal code).
We moved the secondary information on the back of the card. Only the essential ones remained on the front: the number and series, the numerical personal code, the name and surname, sex, date of birth and the signature.
We removed the useless information: the document’s issuer (this should be stored by the authorities, not by us), the exact address—we only kept the city of residence and the postal code, for personal privacy protection.
For fast processing, we coded the information in a standard format for electronic identification—the Quick Response Code (QR code).
By including a storing chip–RF contactless smart card–we transformed the card in an intelligent travel document where biometric information (face recognition, digital fingerprints, iris pattern) can be stored. This way the owner can be accurately identified and the ID card could used as a passport according to the ICAO 9303 standard. (Countries like Holland, Brazil and Albania already comply with the standard.)
We suggested adding some Romanian art and culture benchmarks, recognizable around the world and reminding that being Romanian can be a reason to be proud of—e.g. one version illustrates The Kiss, a well known modern sculpture by Brancusi.