Access to life’s essentials: office and food

Have you noticed how the queues seem to be getting longer and longer in Restaurant 1 as more and more scientists are coming to work at CERN? GS (General Services) has the solution: a new chip in CERN access cards will allow you to pay automatically at the restaurant.


“We were going to replace the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips currently in use because the manufacturer is phasing them out,” explains Rui Nunes, responsible for access cards at GS, “so we decided to use the opportunity to add some new functionalities.” From 1 April, all new cards that are issued or renewed will have the new DESFire EV1 RFID chip on them, and a machine to charge the cards using banknotes has already been installed between the bank and the kiosk in the main building. It will be fully functional in May, when the tills in Restaurant 1 will also be equipped with the readers for the new cards. “People who would like to replace their old access card and get one with the new chip can come to the Card Production Service on the ground floor of Building 55,” says Rui. For the moment the new system will only be implemented in Restaurant 1, but depending on the success of the scheme, it may well be rolled out to Restaurant 2 and even to vending machines on site.

Some cards will be getting a second, so-called Smartcard chip, which will contain computer login information. It will allow more secure authentification for people managing critical IT resources by placing the access card in a special reader installed in the computer. “We may extend the use of these chips to other card holders later on,” adds Rui.

Along with the new technology, the design of the access cards is being revamped. “We had to make room for the new chip,” says Fabienne Marcastel, Graphic Designer within the Communication Group, “and at the same time we can make the cards comply with CERN’s new Graphics Guidelines, which will soon apply to all printed material from CERN.” The Guidelines particularly affect the CERN logo, which should now only appear as shown here. “On the access cards we wanted to keep the photo top right, and the Smartcard chip has to go in the same place as on credit cards, so we found the solution of making the card portrait rather than landscape,” explains Juan Sebastian Rickenmann, the graphic designer who has been working on the new cards. “The thin coloured lines indicate the holder’s user status, and we are using the Optima font because it is one of the official CERN fonts, as specified in the new Graphics Guidelines,” he goes on. “After all, the access card is important – it’s the bridge between the person and the organisation,” concludes Fabienne.

by Joannah Caborn Wengler