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City of Oklahoma City increases uniformity of ID card system to enhance city’s security

City of Oklahoma City increases uniformity of ID card system to enhance city’s security
For Oklahoma City, it took one day to change the way city officials viewed their security. That day was September 11, 2001.


For Oklahoma City, it took one day to change the way city officials viewed their security. That day was September 11, 2001. After that day, the U.S. government issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-12, requiring “a common identification standard for federal employees and contractors.” For Oklahoma City, that meant creating a new system for issuing ID cards to city employees, vendors and contractors.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma City was no stranger to emergencies. It ramped up its security program after the Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995, but it still issued a variety of ID cards. After 9/11 and HSPD-12, it coordinated the look and feel of its ID cards, enhancing its security system at the same time.

“Governments often face emergency situations and need a uniform badge,” said Aaron Hallmark of Dowley, a security systems integration company working with the city. “They want the ability to verify authenticity at a glance.”

Solution found

City officials found what they were looking for in two Fargo printers, both of which reside in the Police Department’s Permits and ID section. A Fargo HDP820 High Definition Printer/Encoder prints police and vendor ID cards, while a Fargo HDP600-LC prints cards for city employees.

Hallmark created the design for the city’s ID cards. “City officials wanted a clean, simple card – something that could easily be identified at a glance,” he said. Thus, a photo is the predominant feature.

The proximity cards are sequenced so when a user is assigned a card, the number is registered, and the user’s access to the system is tracked. City officials can control exactly who has access to what areas in the city facilities. The cards also are used as identification when an official enforces city codes and ordinances, such as keeping property free of dilapidated buildings. If someone has to take action on behalf of the city for violations, he or she has verifiable identification.

“Government markets need ID that is hard to duplicate and to which security features can be added without extreme costs,” Hallmark added. Two years ago, the city added a holographic overlay to its cards. “Administrators needed to add levels of security that could be seen at a glance,” he said, “because there could be many people with ID cards at a disaster site.” Today, the city uses about 4,000 cards, laminated with a special holographic film created with the seal of Oklahoma City.

An unusual aspect of the city’s ID card program is that there are multiple administrators. Access control is administered by managers who can add or delete access rights for their areas. The process is automatic through an interface between AMAG Technology for access control and PeopleSoft Enterprise software.

“Each department within the city is like its own company,” added Hallmark, “and it can assign people access control through a central database. This is a little unusual. In most applications, there is one administrator. In the City of Oklahoma City, there are several. Cards are associated with a department, but the database is visible to everyone.” Some departments have touch ID controls that allow access with a thumbprint or computer sign-in capabilities, but all also have readers to record employee time and attendance.


Today, the City of Oklahoma City uses ID cards extensively for visual identification and access control, printing cards for both purposes in-house. A photo ID card is used for visual security, and a proximity card with a bar code is used for building and department access. Even street entertainers and ice cream vendors wear an official city ID card.

The city’s new ID card system has gone a long way toward helping with security, controlling who has access to what areas and tracking that access, according to Hallmark. If there’s a question of who was in a particular location and for how long, the administrator of the system can track that information.

Oklahoma City has dedicated itself to improvements in the last several years, working hard to make the city more attractive to visitors and a better place to live for residents. It can be proud of the strides it has made in its security program, too. Although the new ID card security program was created by the unfortunate events of one day, it is designed to provide safety for the residents and visitors of Oklahoma City for years to come.

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