Ever wondered where the ID card came from?

Friday, 22nd January, 2016

The origins of the ID card...

It's common practice in most organisations that each person, whether it is a student or staff member, will be required to carry some form of identification, more often than not this will be an ID card… proof that they are who they say they are But when and where did this identification requirement come into play and why?

The earliest identity document, a version of the passport, was introduced by King Henry V of England with the Safe Conducts Act 1414 This act made it high treason to break a truce or promise of safe conduct by killing, robbing or spoiling the victim, however this act was permanently repealed in 1442 and an identify document was no longer needed.

Fast forward to 1876 when photo identification arrived courtesy of Scottish-born Canadian photographer William Norman. William had an exclusive photographic concession at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia USA, where he introduced a photo ID system that required all exhibitors to carry a ‘photographic ticket’ to be able to enter the Exposition and Photo ID was born. Today photo ID are very common and include passports, drivers licences, rail cards, age identity cards etc.

Significantly a British identity card system was used during both world wars,

The most successful was the one used during the Second World War in 1939, when The National Registration Act 1939 was put in place. This act set up a national register, containing the details of all citizens. 65,000 enumerators visited all households across the company to issue the brown/buff identity card. The card included details such as:

  1. Names
    2. Sex
    3. Age
    4. Occupation, profession, trade or employment
    5. Residence
    6. Condition as to marriage
    7. Membership of Naval, Military or Air Force Reserves or Auxiliary Forces or of Civil Defence Services or Reserves.

The scheme was abolished some years after the war on  22 May 1952 when it became unnecessary to carry them.

Further proposals for national identity cards were raised again in the mid-1980s but never came to anything, In 2006 the Identity Cards Act was introduced, driven by rising concerns about identity theft and misuse of public services. At this time there were also various groups campaigning against Identity cards, and it was eventually repealed in 2010 due to concerns over citizen’s human rights.

These government schemes may no longer be and national identity cards seem to have disappeared from the political landscape, but no matter where you work, whether that’s a school, college, university or a corporate company you are more than likely to have a lanyard and an ID card around your neck. Some companies may have more than one! These little cards are an important part of day to day business life, without them we wouldn’t be able to access our place of work or ensure students are safeguarded in educational establishments.

The ID card is becoming more and more sophisticated and now offers more functionality than you may be aware of, hence the term ‘Smartcard’.  These cards can be used to access a range of services such as door access, car park barriers, meeting room control and lift access or can be used to pay for things like catering or printing. They offer a cost effective identification method which:

  • Increases security
  • Saves money
  • Increases convenience
  • Increases transparency

Our philosophy is one ID for everything so if you’d like to find out more about the ID card and our access control solutions you can do so here and here. Or alternatively you can call us on 0113 273 0300 or email us on solutions@ait.co.uk