How to set up photo ID cards in your workplace


photo id cards
Photo ID cards improve security & bring a sense of community

Bringing photo ID cards into your organisation can play a significant factor in ensuring the security of your building and the protection of your staff. So how do you go about setting it up?

First, think about what you want to achieve.

Do you want the photo ID cards to just identify the wearer, or do you want them to also act as access control cards (to gain entry to your building) or as smart cards (to pay for their lunch in the canteen for example)?

The answer to this will determine what kind of cards you need, and how much investment/time will be involved. If this is purely an exercise in badging, a plain PVC card will do – which you can choose to print yourself by investing in an ID card printer, or by using a card bureau service. You can buy cards that come with signature strips, or mag stripes that work with simpler loyalty systems for example.

If you want your photo ID cards to work with your existing access control system, speak to your installer about whether your existing cards can be printed on – or indeed whether you need to swop from a token or fob to a card. Most access control cards can be printed on with a specific type of ID card printer.

If you truly want a smart card, you’ll need a card that comes with a chip embedded – for example Mifare cards (think an Oyster card), or one that’s capable of taking on smart card capabilities. Again, these can be printed on – usually by a card bureau.

Then consider how you’ll manage the programme.

Who will be responsible for creating the photo ID cards, managing the records and dealing with the day-to-day administration? Usually this responsibility lies with HR, but if you don’t have your own HR department, give at least two people responsibility. That way, if one person is on holiday when a card is ‘forgotten’ or ‘stolen’, things won’t grind to a halt.

If your photo ID cards are doubling up as access control cards, put robust procedures in place for what happens if a card goes missing. Your access control software will allow you to block or delete a specific card – ensuring it doesn’t allow access to your building if it drops into the wrong hands.

If you’re bringing in a programme for security reasons, make sure you stick to it.

Don’t make it one rule for one, one rule for another. That means senior management need to be onboard too, otherwise it undermines the whole programme. If the primary purpose for bringing in photo ID cards is to improve security, everyone needs to wear a badge.

That means following procedures for ‘forgotten’ badges too. Give out temporary badges to members of staff who have left theirs at home that day.  

Police it.

Giving all staff a Photo ID card for security purposes is only effective if it’s going to be enforced. If you have someone permanently in Reception, give them the responsibility for checking everyone is wearing a photo ID card when they enter the building. Most importantly, they should stop anyone who is not.

In some industries where security is paramount, for example in healthcare or schools, staff should be given permission to challenge anyone not wearing a badge. This secondary level of checking should reveal anyone who made it past reception unnoticed.

Now you need to consider how you’ll create the cards.

There are two ways you can print your photo ID cards: by investing in a plastic card printer and doing it yourself, or by sending the data to a card bureau for them to print them for you.

Keeping your card printing in-house

There is a wide range of card printers available on the market. At the entry-level end, you can pick up the Evolis ‘plug & print’ Badgy for less than £600.

But if you’re printing a large quantity of cards, or you need them to do more clever things (like print volumes of double sided cards with smart card capabilities) then you could be looking at spending more like £1200. Then you’ll need to factor in the running costs, in terms of blank cards, ribbons and cleaning kits.

Keeping your card printing in-house is sensible if you have a regular need to print new photo ID cards, for example for temporary workers, or contractors.

Outsourcing to a card bureau

If you don’t want to shell-out for a card printer, look for a plastic card supplier with a track record in printing photo ID cards. They will take your data and print the cards for you.

But make sure you check their credibility. It isn’t particularly wise to choose a supplier in China you’ve never heard of – even if they are cheap – integrity of data won’t be guaranteed. Ask sensible questions to protect the identities of your employees – how will the supplier store your information? Are their staff CRB checked? We would expect to be asked this type of due diligence.

Some plastic card printers will also take away the hassle of administration from you. Many, like The Card Network, operate a card issuance service, where all photo ID cards are sent with a personalised letter directly to employees.

On a simple level, photo ID cards identify the wearer, and whether they have the right to access the building. They also make it much harder for the cards to be ‘adopted’ by anyone other than the rightful owner, which automatically tightens security. They also bring a sense of community to your workforce, a benefit that can’t be underestimated.

Printed Mifare cards now available


Genuine mifare cards printed
Choose from a range of options and security features on your printed Mifare cards

The Card Network now provides double-sided print on Mifare Classic 1K and 4k chip cards.

This new printing service offers businesses, schools and organisations the flexibility to brand their printed Mifare cards, and choose from a range of features including numbering, variable text, signature panels, barcodes, as well as encoded & unencoded magnetic stripes.

Why use printed Mifare cards?

Mifare cards use NXP-Semiconductors trademarked chips, which are widely used in contactless smart cards and proximity cards. Thanks to their reliability and low cost, the cards are used by all kinds of organisations for different applications.

Printed Mifare cards are commonly used for access control, ticketing, transportation and as a smart ‘wallet’

Schools and colleges commonly choose printed Mifare cards because they’re capable of many functions. As well as being used for access control (for entry to the library for example) they can also be used for cashless vending (where a student ‘swipes’ for their lunch), to check out library books, or to access the computer system.

Printed Mifare cards are also well suited to environments where a low level of security is required. Sports clubs often use them as a means of allowing members to enter the locker rooms, and because they can also allow them to access their account at the bar.

The cards also act as perfect tickets – use them as season membership cards for example, and swipe them to get through the turnstile at a football match. They’re also widely used by transport providers as electronic tickets.

Genuine chips, high quality print

All the cards we supply contain genuine NXP Mifare chips: we don’t sell compatibles from the Far East. Our modern print set up doesn’t use surface print, so both the card and chip remain safe under the laminate overlay.

The chips in the card are supplied unencoded. If you have any special requirements for your printed Mifare cards, or you’re not sure which type to order, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss your project. All our prices include design and artwork.

250 full colour, double-sided 1K printed Mifare cards start from £399.00.


Making the most of your access control system?

Lots of small businesses have some kind of access control system onsite. In the main, the system was brought in to replace traditional locks & keys, with employees using an access control card or token to gain entry through the front door. But could it be doing more to protect your business?


HID access control wall reader
Adding a new access control reader into your system can pay dividends

Your access control system could be doing more to look after your property and assets

Are there sensitive areas within your building that contain valuable assets or information, or could be classed as ‘dangerous spaces’, for example a warehouse? If so, you should think about controlling who has access to them.

Don’t make yourself vulnerable to theft

As much as we might not like to think about it, employee theft is not uncommon. If you have expensive stock or products, make sure they are in an area managed by your access control system. Only those authorised to enter will be able to gain access.

Keep confidential information confidential

Certain business information will be better protected through access control cards, particularly as traditional keys can be copied, or used by disgruntled or past employees. Securing the area where personal employee information or financial details are held for example makes sense – and makes you less vulnerable.

Protect yourself & your workforce

Workplace accidents like slip and trip incidents often happen because people access areas that they shouldn’t, or areas that they haven’t received the proper training to be in. Ensuring that these ‘increased risk spaces’ are restricted through your access control system protects both your people and your business.

Restricting people’s access to your stock, money storage, sensitive information or increased risk areas can help protect your business, your people and your bottom line.

If you have specific areas that should have limited access, talk to your security provider about adding them into your access control system. We stock a range of industry-leading HID readers (for prox, iClass and Multiclass) and access control cards and tokens from HID, Paxton, Bewator, TDSi, Kantech, Indala, Cotag, Impro and PAC.

Are hand gestures the future of access control?

Access control technology is constantly advancing. The latest invention in the industry comes from HID Global, which has just announced its innovative ‘gesture based’ methods, which can be used on RFID-based devices such as smart cards and smartphones.

It means that we could soon be opening doors with a wave.

Access control entry gesture
If you don’t know the right wave, you’re not getting in

According to HID Global, the technology will increase privacy and convenience, as well as security. For example, it can allow the user to secretly signal that he is using his card to gain access, but is under duress.

How will it work in practice?
A user will define a series of hand sequences or gestures that will control the operation of an RFID- based reader, like a door lock. When presenting their smart cards to reader, the user will repeat these gestures – for example rotating the card clockwise by 180 degrees and then back again – to gain entry. These ‘passwords’ include 3-D motions such as moving to the left, right, back and forward.

This is a new authentication factor in access control, and steps up security: cloned or lost smart cards would be useless without the appropriate hand gesture.

The technology can also be incorporated into a smartphone, where the user determines gesture-based ‘passwords’ to unlock apps or complete a phone-based transaction.

HID Global is currently inviting partners to contact them for information on licensing the patent.

Read more here

Keep your secure access control cards secure

Card identity theft is growing. It’s contactless debit cards that have hit the news recently – and how easy it is for identity thieves to capture personal data if they have the right technology to hand.

But what about your ‘secure’ access control cards? Could the data on these be cloned too?

In some cases, the answer is most certainly yes.

Cotag access control card
Stop thieves cloning your access control cards with rigid card holders

Keep your secure areas secure

The cloning of access control cards and key fobs presents a significant security risk.

An unattended bag in a nearby café or a visible wallet on a crowded commuter train – both present an opportunity to someone looking to steal your data or identity information.

There are obviously technology options out there to maintain higher access control security through increased encoding, but these can be cost-prohibitive, and take time to install.

One highly cost-effective way to address the issue now is to use plastic card protectors.

A simple and easy way to protect your access control cards

Rigid card protectors secure personal information on any RFID smart card including the popular MIFARE and iClass cards. A layer of transparent rigid shielded material prevents unauthorised access to the data held, without impacting on performance.

So wherever your access control card is, as long as it’s in its holder, the data on it is protected.  

Giving one to all of your staff, and enforcing its use means you significantly reduce the risk of unauthorised access to your building – and secure areas.

If you’re interested in these card protectors for your business, please get in touch with us.

Read more about the risks to your credit and debit card data here.

Are you prepared for hotel conference season?

Hotel conference registration
Speed up registration and increase security at the same time

If you’ve got a large conference or exclusive event coming up, you’ll be immersed in planning. Branding, access and security are likely to be just some of your priorities. It might help to ask yourself the following:

–    Have you made the most of the branding opportunities?

–    How are you going to badge attendees and ensure a smooth ‘check-in’ process?

–    How will grant the people access to the right areas of the conference – and keep others out?

Branding and security work hand-in-hand

Consistency of branding makes a great impression. If you have a theme and a brand for the conference, you’ll probably have applied it across everything from the welcome programme to the exhibition stands and menus.

Have you considered your name badges?

One of the first touch points with your brand is at arrival. If you’ve gone to a huge effort to brand your conference, don’t miss your name badges out. Include your logo and other conference details onto a personalised plastic card which could them be attached to a custom designed lanyard.

Rather than a simple name badge, provide a photo ID card instead – this aids security and identification and helps with introductions and recognition between attendees.

You can either have ID cards printed ahead of the conference by asking attendees to send over photographs, or print them on the day with a plastic card printer.

Increase security through customised access control cards

Giving access control cards to your attendees is a great way of granting access to the conference (and making sure other hotel guests don’t wander in for example), whilst still allowing freedom of movement.

You can also program access control cards to grant access rights for specific areas; so everyone can access the main conference room, but only certain people can access the VIP area.

Access control cards can also:

–    Have promotional or reminder messages printed on them, with event details or function information on for example

–    Act as cashless vending cards or store spending information.

Also ensure that you have enough access control cards and hotel key cards in stock to meet the rush of guests and attendees: the best laid plans will go to the wall if the cupboards are bare.


An error-free way to order the right access control cards

Finding the right access control cards to work with your access control system can be a bit of a frustrating search if you don‘t know exactly what you‘re looking for.

Anyone know the details?

It’s a familiar scenario: the access control system was installed a couple of years ago and came with a number of access control cards or tokens. You’re now running low and need to re-order. But the person who looked after this side of the business has left, or the original details from the system installation have been lost.

So what do you order?

Do you know the part number of your access control card?

Do you need proximity cards, proximity key fobs, discs, key cards or clamshells?

Or does your system require magnetic swipe cards, master & shadow cards, ISO thin passive cards, microcards or transmitters?

Then there are the manufacturers: is your system made by Paxton, Bewator, TDSi, HID, PAC, Cotag, Kantech … etc?

And do you need to be able to overprint them on your card printer?

The list of options is endless. You don’t want to take a chance on ordering the wrong product in case it won’t work on your system.

We offer a card matching service

Don’t worry if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We know the world of access control cards & products, so we can advise you on what you need.

Email us a photograph of the access control cards or tokens you currently use, or post us a sample. We’ll help identify the correct product with no obligation on your part.

So before you buy off the shelf, give us a call. We’ll make sure it’s the right shelf.


Everything access control for EE (Everything Everywhere)


Superfast broadband & 4G phones
Superfast delivery for superfast broadband provider

EE is the UK’s most advanced digital communications company and was the first in Britain to offer superfast 4G services alongside fibre broadband. EE run the EE, Orange and T-Mobile brands and deliver to over 27 million customers. The Card Network started working with EE back in July 2011, when they were still known as Everything Everywhere.

The right access control products

EE were looking for a supplier they could trust to deliver the right access control cards and consumables, so they contacted us. In July 2011, we supplied them with 2000 TDSi microcards and new printer ribbons for their plastic card printer.

At the end of December 2011, EE came back to us for corporate format HID cards. Over the next six months, we were to supply more TDSi cards, HID cards and printer consumables such as ribbons and card printing software.

Superfast broadband needed superfast delivery

In July 2012 they contacted us with a new request. With the official launch of EE and the UK’s first 4G mobile network scheduled for a few months time, all staff were going to need new access control cards. We sourced them a combined HID card that would combine several access control cards into one.

We ensured that all 12,000 HID cards and consumables were with EE well in advance of the launch of the new brand and continue to supply them on an ongoing basis.

Search our range of access control card products.

One small change could make a big impact on your property management budget

If you’re a large organisation with multiple sites, or a property management firm responsible for multi-tenanted buildings, you’ll probably spend a considerable amount of your buildings budget on access control products and services.

It’s not just the access control systems themselves that are expensive – and costs vary hugely depending on the sophistication of the technology – the accompanying access control cards and tokens quickly mount up when large numbers of staff are involved. Double that card up as a Photo ID card and have different security features for different staff, and the costs start to creep up.

Changing one thing could really reduce costs in this area 

Low cost compatible proximity key fob
Swapping to a low cost compatible could deliver significant cost savings

Swapping your access control cards and tokens from the branded manufacturer to a low-cost compatible could deliver a visible difference to your budget. The GenTech range of multi platform access control cards work across many access control systems, and are cheaper than their branded equivalents.

The range includes a 125Khz ISO Proximity card (£119 for 100 dye sublimation printable cards), a 125Khz Clamshell Proximity card (£70 for a pack of 100) and a 125Khz Keyfob (£119 for 100).

They are compatible with BPT, CDVI, Daitem, Farfisa, Fermax, Logisty, Raytel & Videx door entry systems; Galaxy, Scantronic, Menvier & Gardtech alarm systems; plus Aptiq, Axxess Id, CDVI, Controlsoft, Deedlock, Dortag, EasiProx, Entrylux, Ics, Impro, Mtecc, Nortech & PAC (OneProx) access control systems. They also work with Paxton (OEM Readers).

Of course it’s not just the large organisations that will benefit, smaller businesses can also reduce costs by choosing this ‘white label’ solution.

Try before you buy

The area of access control security is not one to be taken lightly, so we encourage you to try the GenTech products before you order. Please contact us for a free sample to test on your system by emailing or calling us on 0844 257 8857

Are Proximity Cards the right access control cards for you?

The sheer number of access control readers and cards on the market can make choosing one bewildering. What type of reader system should you choose? Which manufacturer? What type of card or token?

The answer depends on what you want the system to do. Are you looking to simply upgrade from your traditional lock and key system, or do you want something more sophisticated, to grant different access rights to your staff for example? For some help on where to start read our blog ‘Which Access control cards system do I need?’.

One of the most common questions we’re asked is about the differences of the different access control cards. In this blog we’ll look at the Proximity Card.

HiD access control card
Proximity cards are available from a range of manufacturers

How Proximity cards work

As their name suggests, Proximity cards contain information that can be detected by an access control reader when the card is near them. For the technology minded of you, each proximity card has an antenna embedded within it that transmits information encoded as a radio signal. ID badges of this kind are also called RFID or ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ cards. A proximity card reader positioned between 2.5 and 20 inches (depending on the model chosen) receives this signal and grants or denies access accordingly. Unlike contactless smart cards, proximity cards do not have the ability to have new information written onto them.

Who uses Proximity cards?

Proximity cards are often the first choice for organisations that need to restrict entry into particular areas, particularly large businesses with multiple sites. Only card holders with the right access rights will be granted entry. Proximity cards can also bring an added level of security when used hand-in-hand with ID card software. ID information about the card holder that is stored on a microchip is transmitted in a radio wave – this then appears on a computer screen to verify the pass holder’s identity.

The entrances and exits of the card holder can then be logged into a computer database, providing a record of who was in a specific area at any given time.

For these reasons, proximity cards are often used by businesses and institutions that work with sensitive information or significant sums of money, e.g. government buildings, military bases, hospitals, banks, credit card companies and insurance companies. Proximity cards are also used by schools for student and employee ID cards.

The next level of security

You can also invest in software that will immediately notify company security if an attempt is made to enter an area with an unauthorized proximity access card. Other software is available that protects your computer network by detecting invasions from unauthorised computer databases.

We stock proximity cards, keyfobs and tokens from the leading manufacturers: Paxton, HID, Bewator, TDSi, Pac, Cotag, Indala and Kantech. We also stock GenTech access products, which are lower priced compatibles that work across multiple platforms.