Cleared For Takeoff
Compared to the complex and challenging technical problems solved by a Navy training facility for pilots in North Carolina, finding a way to improve the center’s image was a snap.
The problem was the ID cards. Used by the 50 base employees to indicate their level of clearance within a classified area, they are a critical component of the base’s security program. The cards are used in addition to the Common Access Cards (CACs), which are standard identification for active duty uniformed service personnel, selected reserves, Department of Defense (DOD) civilians and eligible contractors. The second card is used at the training facility to make sure a person inside a classified area has the correct level of clearance. Some visitors require an escort, some do not, and the goal is to make sure people are where they should be.
Previously, badges were made of simple card stock and laminated. Wear-and-tear caused the old cards to fall off their clips and become lost. Often they were not found, causing security concerns such as someone trying to use someone else’s lost card. The base sought to find a way to create cards that looked more respectable, were more durable and could not be easily copied Attending the General Services Administration (GSA) convention in San Antonio two years ago, base personnel were introduced to the Fargo card identity systems. The Fargo Persona C16, introduced in 2002, is a full-color dye-sublimation printer that can be set up quickly with an interactive CD. The drop-in ribbon loads only one way, preventing user error, and the spring-loaded input hopper accommodates up to 100 cards. The C16 also features an LCD display showing printer status.
The printer was purchased from ColorID, Cornelius, N.C. The solution integrated by Color ID included the C16 printer and Card Five design and printing software. Future plans include linking the design to the database to encode magnetic stripe cards and to process smart cards. Smart cards might allow physical access to secure areas, control entry into department computer networks and serve as authentication for a department’s computerized public key infrastructure. For now, the institution is comfortable using combination codes on access doors.
The new ID cards transformed the cards to a more professional look. The cards have also proven to be more durable: Not a single card has needed to be replaced.
Major exercises are held at the facility three times a year. Forty extra ID cards are produced for visitors at those times.