Benefits of Worn Photo IDentification
You cannot go on to the campus of a Fortune 1000 Corporation, hospital, large federal or state government facility or any location with more than 1000 employees and not find some form of photo identification being worn. Why have these operations invested large amounts of their resources to issue and manage a badged environment? Safety and security are the obvious reasons. However, are these two reasons being communicated effectively to those who manage badge issuance and by those who wear the badge? With the first-hand knowledge gained over the past two decades from visiting over 5000 individual campuses and observing how badge issuance is managed, we have come to the conclusion that many organizations have failed to get the most out of their badging investment by not emphasizing the importance of safety and security within their policies and procedures. Below you will find some topics that will assist your development and management of a safe, secure and efficient badging initiative.
It all starts with Security.
Your organization is responsible for providing a safe and secure environment for workers, students, vendors, contractors, guests, customers and whoever else comes onto the campus. This is the primary motive behind most badging initiatives and may even have a place in reducing an organization's liability in a court of law. If the level of safety and security is a topic of concern while in litigation, could you state under oath that your organization is doing everything within reason to create a safe and secure environment? Photo ID badges are one of the least expensive and easily implemented security initiatives an organization can invest in. ID badges in conjunction with; proper indoor and outdoor lighting, door access systems, surveillance cameras, alarm systems, security guards, fencing and written, trained and enforced safety and security policies and procedures are what it takes to create a safe and secure environment.
The Security Story
You worked late making the final edits to a project due the next day. It is after 6:00 PM and you are walking down a well-lit hallway to leave the facility, a person is walking towards you. From the person’s first appearance your internal security alarm goes off; but upon further observation, you notice they are wearing your organization's photo ID badge. As they get closer, you can tell the photo on the badge matches the person, and you continue your exit, relieved to know that person is an employee. Whew! What if they were not wearing an ID badge? This person that has already set off your internal concerns of security and is approaching at a fast pace. Now, what will you do? You have the option of turning around, going into an occupied room, and hopefully, you will report that a person is on campus without proper identification. If you feel secure, you may even approach them and ask if you can help them, and then inform them they must go to the front desk and get a temporary or visitor ID badge. If your organization does not strictly enforce wearing ID badges, the situation can easily become awkward, as you may have just reported the new CFO to security.
Only if a photo is taken correctly and cropped to a recognizable size does it makes a photo ID badge a good safety and security resource. ID badge photos are not "Glamour Shots", however, they do need to be professional through the use of a consistent backdrop and by having the photo be a face shot that is close enough to only capture the ears, hair, chin and some neck. With a properly captured and printed photo, a quick glance is all that is required to determine that the badge photo is that of the bearer. The key word is quick, as most authenticators (observers) will look at a badge for no more than a second or two and within that window they notice that the photo is not the bearer, they will then start making a stronger observation by focusing on the badge and may even request to retrieve the badge or report it. Poorly captured photos that are too difficult to be quickly matched to the bearer are a waste of resources, as no one can use them as an authentication tool. One last benefit of a photo is you will never need to worry about capturing and printing signatures. If the bearer does not look like the photo, does the signature matter?
The information printed on the photo ID badge is just as important as the photo. If you cannot quickly read the person's entire name from at least three feet away, then the badge is not going to be read for authentication. If the photo ID is valid, and the person is of concern, then their readable full name becomes very important. In some areas like emergency rooms and retail environments, full first name and the initial of the last name are preferred in order to protect the employee’s right to privacy from others. Certifications are also important in many organizations and should be taken into consideration when designing a functional ID badge. Readable data is why a "vertical designed" (short edge on bottom) badge is challenging to design. You cannot print on a vertical credit card sized badge (industry standard) using large fonts for the first and last names, certifications, department and/or title, along with a large clear close-up photo (1'" x 1.25" minimum) and a recognizable logo. Sacrifices in the areas of reduced font sizes and smaller photo and graphic dimensions are required in order to make a vertical design marginally functional using credit card sized media. We are unsure why vertical designs are specified other than that of personal preference and that the person specifying does not understand how their preference will have a dramatic effect on the badge’s security and safety functionality. Design over function.
Safety in Colors
In many organizations, only certified personnel are permitted to perform certain tasks and typically within defined locations. Trades that fall into this category are; doctors, nurses, heavy equipment operators, hazard material handlers, machine operators, security guards, first responders, and other trade specialists. How can one quickly determine if an individual is in the right place doing the right task? This is where ID badge color coding, specialized icons, and other badge design features are used to visually jump out and confirm compliance. With a well-defined method of recognizing one's association with a trade or specified work location, an organization can reduce their safety liability as long as they have written, trained and enforced policies and procedures. Only “red” badges can be in the manufacturing area. This is taken to the next level if only “red” badges are programmed to work in door-access readers that grant access to manufacturing. Do not assume controlled access alone solves the same level of safety and security, as it does not. Once a person gains access, authorized or not (tailgaters), they are assumed authorized, unless they have a visual queue that states otherwise.
ID badges and seat belts have something very important in common; hopefully, they will never be needed. However, on the rare occasion that they are needed, the ongoing inconvenience of having everyone buckle or badge up may save a life or two…or many! “I do not wear my badge, everyone knows who I am” or “everyone knows each other around here, we only use them to get in the building” This is mostly stated by a manager or executive. They expect everyone else to wear their ID badge, but them. Well, if they are expecting to manage and not comply, they are undermining every dollar invested in a managed badged environment. Everyone must wear the badge, every day, every month, every year…forever! And yes, that means you too! So “badge up” to ensure the safety and security of your organization.
Author: Joe French