New Citizen In-Processing
by Tod Foley
Bots swish quietly up and down the sterile halls of the New Citizen In-Processing Office. As a newly-approved immigrant to Union City you've been scanned, digitized, analyzed and treated to a wide range of innoculants via an injection of nanobots now swarming around within your bloodstream. You've never felt healthier in your life.
Any pressing medical concerns such as communicative diseases or bodily harm have been dealt with, and you're ready to receive your Personal Identification Device, which will tie your NIN (your Node Identification Number) into CitySystem and allow you to access all public services within the city.
By terms of the city charter, tracking of innocent or unsuspected individuals is highly regulated and subject to geographic and temporal limits, except for cases of active criminal investigations. In other words, as long as you keep your nose clean, no single entity ever tracks you for very long at a stretch, or outside of its own domain. This affords little relief to the scrumblies and paranoids outcity, or to those who remember simpler times.
The clerkbot greets you by name, and gestures for you to have a seat. "Welcome to Union City. Your PID is encoded within this chip, which we will implant subdermally or transfer to an object of your choosing. This object may be an article of jewelry, for instance, a wearable electronic device, or your PDA.” All approved New Citizens are given a free, UBI-supported, mass-manufactured Personal Data Assistant. The interface is 2D and laden with advertisements for the Big Nine corporations and CitySystem's menu of Citizen Services, as well as sponsors of various District Programs and Public Service Announcements.
“Be aware that the city's charter government strongly recommends the subdermal chip for purposes of identity security,” the bot continues. “Your chip is linked with your genome record in CitySystem, so in the event of loss or malfunction, you may receive a replacement chip at any time by providing a DNA sample for the Demotics Department just down the hall."
You look around at the collection of people awaiting their turn. Thick-skinned farmers from the wilderlands, dusty resource zone pickers and disillusioned ex-scrumblies looking for a new life, corporate transfers from other charter cities, young parents with babies and toddlers in arms or floating suspended in their PediaPorts, a klatch kid with his parents looking stern and avoiding the fresh wound in his forearm...
Parents usually go for the subdermal chip when it comes to their kids. For ease of use, these chips are typically implanted in the hand or forearm. Old-timers generally prefer external devices, and those with sufficient means often have special jewelry made to store their PIDkits.
The bot holds the nodule containing the tiny chip in its delicate fingers, and gives you a close look. "Would you prefer the subdermal chip, or have you brought a device?"