Opencard

The City of Prague is gradually replacing long-term public transport passes with a smartcard system. Here's what you need to know

The Opencard is a smart card that combines the functions of library card, parking-payment system, and access key for the City of Prague website.

From 2009 onwards, the Opencard will also be the only means by which Prague residents can buy one-year public transport passes and will eventually replace all long-term passes.

You can find most of the information you need about the new system on the Opencard website, which is available in both Czech and English.

There are, however, some discrepancies between the Czech- and English-language information on the site which this article addresses.

2009 UPDATE - NEW ANONYMOUS VERSION

2009 brings good news for those concerned about their privacy: An anonymous version of Opencard is now available. The card works exactly the same but you do not need to state any personal data to obtain it. As opposed to the standard Opencard, a fee of 200 CZK is required to get this type of card. Currently the anonymous Opencard can be purchased only at the Contact Point in the Adria Palace, on Jungmannova in Prague 1.    

HOW TO APPLY

The Opencard website includes an English-language application guide which contains all the documentation you should need.

It's also possible to download Czech-language PDFs of the application and authorization forms from the Opencard site's Formuláře ke stažení ("Forms to Download") page: 

The forms available for download are: 

Žádost o vydání karty
"Card Application Form"
The standard application form. This version of the PDF contains interactive form fields that can be filled in on your computer.

Žádost o vydání karty
"Card Application Form"
The standard application form. This is a regular PDF with no interactive form fields.

Podmínky pro vydávání karty
"Conditions for Card Issuance"

Souhlas se zpracováním osobních údajů a poučení o právech subjektu údajů
"Consent Form to Process Personal Data and Disclose Information and Instructions of the Rights of the Subject in Question"
This form must be signed and submitted along with your Opencard application.

Žádost o vydání karty s kontaktním čipem
"Application Form for Card with Contact Chip"
This version of the PDF contains interactive form fields that can be filled in on your computer.

Žádost o vydání karty s kontaktním čipem
"Application Form for Card with Contact Chip"
This is a regular PDF with no interactive form fields.

Oznámení o změně údajů
"Notification of Changes to Personal Information"

Žádost o změnu stavu karty
"Application to Change Card Status"
Use this form to block or unblock your card.

Žádost o aktivaci aplikace
"Application to Activate Application"

Žádost o vypořádání parkovacích kupónů
"Application for Parking Account Balance Payment"

Žádost o zrušení karty opencard
"Opencard Cancellation Form"

Podmínky využívání kartové aplikace Parkování
"Conditions for Using the Parking Application Form"

Protokol o reklamaci karty
"Compensation Claim Form"


WHERE TO APPLY

The Opencard website has a list of places where you can submit your application form and accompanying documentation (passport or residency card): Contact Points for Submission of Card Application Forms


CAN FOREIGNERS APPLY FOR AN OPENCARD?

According to Martin Opatrný, the project's press spokesman, Opencard application is currently limited to citizens of European Union countries and to non-EU citizens with permanent resident (Trvalý pobyt) status in the Czech Republic.

But Opatrný also expects an anonymous version of the Opencard to be launched in the autumn, aimed at tourists.


HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The Opencard is currently free of charge.


WHAT DOES THE OPENCARD DO?

Public Transport
The Opencard replaces 30-day and 90-day public transport passes and, as of January 1st, 2009, will also replace the annual pass.

Applying for an Opencard-based annual pass before September 30th, 2008 entitles you to a 10 percent discount. The deadline for annual pass applications is January 31st, 2009.

Car Parking
Opencard holders can use their card to pay at Prague 1 parking meters bearing the Opencard logo. (See the Opencard website for a full list of places and times.)

The meter deducts points from your card, which can be topped up at Opencard contact points.

Public Libraries
The Opencard can be used as a library card, enabling holders to reserve and borrow books, use the internet and take advantage of other library services. You must be library member first, however.

Vím, jak řídím (Traffic Violations Database)
Vím, jak řídím ("I Know How I Drive") is a service that allows Opencard users online access to a list of their outstanding traffic violations.


SECURITY & PRIVACY ISSUES

There's been considerable discussion in the Czech media about the potential use of Opencard for electronic surveillance, and on the security of smartcards in general.

Responding to this, Prague city council has offered some assurances about the privacy and security of the Opencard.

For detailed information about Opencard security, in Czech, see the official website: Bezpečnost a osobní údaje

Here's a brief overview of the council's claims:

Opencard uses smartcard technology of the sort found in credit cards and other forms of electronic identification

The particular smartcard used is the MIFARE DESfire, which has roughly 4 kilobytes of memory.

According to the website, personal information is secured by the following means:

• Information can only be read or modified at Opencard terminals

• The cryptographic key stores information in a secure access module (SAM), which "complies with the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS)"

• Access to Opencard is only possible through the user's card, verification of which is checked against a central server

• All details are individually encrypted and will only be decrypted when relevant to the completion of a particular function

• The MIFARE DESfire chip encrypts any information it sends to a reader to guard against bugging

• Data is divided for storage, and only the detail necessary for the completion of a particular function is made available to the relevant people. The public transport company, for instance, will have access to your birth date, in order to confirm which age group you belong to, but not to your identity, and Opencard staff won't have access to information about your public transport pass

According to the DPP website, the Opencard-based public transport system...

...does not allow for the continual monitoring of people's movements when they use the Opencard. [The system] serves only as a means of purchasing electronic coupons and checking their validity during ticket inspection.

The only information stored by the relevant service provider is the completion of a given transaction. In regards to the [public transport system] this means purchasing travel coupons. In accordance with the law ... on the protection of personal details, only details necessary for the provision of a given service or its warranty claim are stored."
Presumably, however, only time will tell how secure the system really is, and how trustworthy the officials running it are.

Prague TV will keep you updated on any developments.

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