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Identifying the Purpose of an ID Card Program


To begin the planning process, first consider the purpose and overall goals of the ID card program. There are a number of questions you should consider:

  • Why is the ID card program necessary?
  • How do you want the ID cards to be used?
  • When are the cards to be used?
  • Who will use the cards?

Answering these, and other big picture questions specific to your situation, will help you develop an overall strategy for the introduction of your ID card program.

Why is the ID card program necessary?

Think about the reasons you are adding an ID card program. Adding an ID card program is usually just one part of a re-design of an organization’s security policies and procedures and comes because the organization has identified weaknesses in its security policies and procedures. There may also be more specific issues that have led you to consider including an ID card program as part of your company’s security mandate. If the ID card program is being introduced as a response to product thefts, for example, the decisions you make about the program requirements need to take this into consideration.

How do you want the ID cards to be used?

ID cards can have different purposes. Simple ID card systems use cards for visual identification. More complicated programs include elements of information storage and/or access control. It’s important to decide which of these features you require (many systems incorporate elements of all three features).

The table below outlines the key characteristics of each type of ID card system.

Type of ID Card Systems




Visual Identification The most basic ID card system, it provides visual confirmation that a person wearing a badge is who they say they are.
  • Small companies
  • Buildings where employees are in regular contact with each other
  • Organizations facing budget constraints
  • Retail
  • Education
  • Commercial
  • Gaming
  • Law Enforcement
  • Financial
  • Healthcare
  • Government
Information Storage Smart cards store data that is used to identify a card holder. Cards can store both basic and advanced levels of information. Information could include simple (name/password) or complex (biometric) data.
  • Organizations that need to protect proprietary information
  • Companies that need to meet government security guidelines
  • Institutions that have cardholders with varying authorization levels
  • Financial
  • Healthcare
  • Government
  • Education
  • Hospitality
  • Retail

*Besides providing identification, cards can store membership, reward, and gift card data

Access Control  Cards used for access control ensure that facilities remain secure by restricting a cardholder’s movements to areas they are authorized to access.
  • Government or military buildings
  • Institutions where people have a wide range of authorizations
  • Facilities with frequent visitors
  • Commercial
  • Government
  • Healthcare
  • Law Enforcement

When are the cards to be used?

Now that you’ve settled on how the card will be used, you next need to consider the frequency of a card’s use.

If you’ve decided that your cards need to provide access control or information storage, they will be used on a daily basis. Regular use, particularly when cards are put through a card reader, can lessen a card’s longevity. Consider card longevity when determining how many cards you need to print, how often replacement cards will be needed, and the costs associated with this.

Visual identification cards provide a longer life as they simply hang around a cardholder’s neck or off a belt loop.

Who will use the cards?

Answering the question of who will use the ID cards is important because it will assist you with figuring out:

  • The types of cards you need
  • How many cards you require
  • How often you will need to replace cards
  • How the cards are to be printed and distributed

Think about whether ID cards will be used company-wide or for a specific part of your organization’s workforce. For example, an organization with a number of divisions may require warehouse employees to carry ID cards while other employees with the organization do not need them.

Starting an ID card program may sound intimidating. We can make the process easy. Call us at 1-800-667-1772.

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