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.

Is it becoming easier for schools to embrace biometric technology?

With Paxton recently announcing the integration of biometrics within its Net2 access control system, is one of the main stumbling block for schools – that of cost – about to be negated?

The argument for and against biometrics within schools and educational establishments has been rife for some time now. For many parents and pupils, the argument against implementing biometric measures such as fingerprint or iris scanning centres around the invasion of privacy.

This, and the fact that they make the act of tracking and monitoring of pupil’s movements and behaviour seem ‘normal’.

For the establishments themselves, there is almost always a financial consideration too. Biometrics technology comes at a cost – not just in terms of the technology itself, but also of the administration time needed to turn it into a reality.

For smaller schools with smaller budgets, these considerations mean it just hasn’t been a realistic topic on the agenda.

But is all that set to change?

One of the most popular access systems used by schools, colleges and institutions around the country is the Paxton Net2 system. The reasons for this are many. It’s competitively priced and easy to install and manage. The associated keyfobs, cards or tokens aren’t expensive either, so ongoing costs are kept at a minimum. In short, Paxton are known for their reliability and for being user friendly, without breaking the bank.

Until very recently, if you wanted to bring biometrics in to school, you would most likely need to invest in an entirely new access system.

However Paxton has just announced that Suprema’s industry leading biometric technology is to be integrated into the Paxton Net2 system.

Which means what exactly?

According to Paxton’s press release, this new integration “seamlessly connects Suprema’s biometric access control readers and Paxton’s Net2software”. It means you’ll be able to ‘plug in’ biometric capabilities into your existing Paxton Net2 software, allowing you to enroll users and create ‘biometric tokens’.

It means that the argument against using biometrics due to financial constraints or heavy administration requirements just lost some ground.

Smaller schools who previously rejected the idea as an impossibility may soon be bringing the subject up again for debate.

Let’s not forget the benefits

Biometrics enable ‘true identity’ – a fingerprint or iris/vein scan can’t be borrowed or copied in the way that an ID card can. Then there’s speed and convenience when it’s used in the library to check out books, for example. And the ‘cool’ factor from the perspective of the pupils – it’s fun to scan your finger to pay for your lunch (and it facilitates equality too, as no-one knows who qualifies for free school meals).

But as with all things of this nature, the implementation of such measures needs to be handled with caution, and with proper consultation with parents.

A piece of research published last year by Big Brother Watch based on data from the 2012-13 academic year revealed that an estimated 40% of schools in England are already using biometric systems. It therefore surmised that fingerprints have already been taken from more than one million school pupils; many without their parents’ consent.

Do you think that the integration of biometric technology into the Net2 system will pave the way for biometric measures being more widely used within schools? Let us know what you think.


Pay for your milk using your veins?

Forget fingerprint and iris scanners. You could soon be able to pay for the week’s groceries using the veins on your hand.

The Biyo: no wallets, no receipts – all you need is yourself

The next thing in biometrics payment authentication?

US Biometric company Biyo (formerly Pulse Wallet) have created a revolutionary way to make payments for everyday purchases.

Rather than opting for the mere fingerprint to authenticate payments, like so many other biometric specialists, Biyo have gone for the whole hand.

How does it work?

To set it up, you swipe your credit card as you normally would on the Biyo reader in store, then scan your palm and enter your phone number to link it to your account.

The unique vein patterns in your palm create your own secure biometric password for all future transactions. One of the key benefits being, as Biyo points out, that this is a password ‘you never have to remember.’

Then the next time you pop into a shop (one that supports the Biyo technology of course), all you have to do to authenticate your purchase is wave your hand over the reader. Job done. No more shielding your PIN from the person behind you.

You can then track your transactions online or via the Biyo app.

Will it take off?

The problem as far as we can see it, is ensuring enough merchants sign up to the technology to make it accessible. The fact that you can forget your wallet and still pick up tonight’s dinner by scanning your palm is great, but what if the Take Away doesn’t have a Biyo terminal? You’ll have to drive back home to pick up your cards. Which goes against the benefit of ‘convenience’ somewhat.

It’s only available in the US at the moment, but if it’s successful, you can probably expect it to roll out to other countries.

What’s wrong with a finger – why do we need the whole hand?

Biyo points out that their palm vein pattern recognition uses near infrared light to capture your own individual vein pattern which is more than 99% accurate. The sensor is contactless, so you won’t be leaving traces of your pattern like you can do with fingerprints. Also, the technology isn’t affected by any blemishes or cuts on your hand as it’s looking underneath the skin.

We know what you’re thinking. What if someone chops off your hand and whips it out at the till?

Ignoring the inherent problems of getting a severed hand past the shop assistant, Biyo are quick to put you at ease on this one – it wouldn’t work due to the lack of blood flow.

So that’s a relief.

Find out more at

The benefits of custom printed visitor passes

How do you currently manage visitors in your organisation or school? If you’re in the majority, you’ll probably use a paper visitor pass system, where visitors sign-in to a visitor book and are given a visitor badge to wear around their person. This makes them easy to identify, and also ensures you are meeting your health and safety obligations.

Custom printed visitor passes can improve security further

Custom printed visitor passes make it harder for a third-party to ‘blend-in’.

Standard visitor pass systems are readily available, and are used by many organisations and establishments. Which means a third-party can easily get their hands on a standard ‘visitors’ badge, and also a standard ‘visitors’ lanyard. But they can’t so easily access a branded version.

Branding your visitor passes makes it far more difficult for a third-party to replicate them, and therefore makes it more difficult for them to gain entry.

Portray a professional image

Having custom printed visitor passes also presents a more professional image to visitors. A ‘branded welcome’ is always going to impress visitors more – whether you’re a company or a school that has parents or school officials visiting.

Personalise your passes further

As well as branding your custom printed visitor passes with your logo or corporate information, you can also include other relevant information. For example, you could include health and safety regulations specific to that location, or fire evacuation details. You might want to list items that are prohibited onsite for contractors, or highlight different access rights.

Interested in custom printed visitor passes? Please contact us for a quote.


Safeguarding with school ID cards: Deyes High School

All schools have a responsibility to provide a secure and safe environment for pupils, staff and visitors. Pupils need to feel safe, parents need to be confident that procedures are in place to safeguard their children and staff need to feel that everything has been done to make the working environment a safe place to work.

But this doesn’t mean putting up expensive security barriers or other costly access systems – a lot can be achieved through common sense and by investing in some cost-effective paper or card solutions.

School ID cards help to improve security

Many primary and secondary schools are now looking into printing school ID cards for staff and pupils. As well as improving security by identifying the wearer and whether they have the right to access the building, school ID cards also promote a sense of community.

Deyes High School in Liverpool saw the benefits of school ID cards back in 2010. They contacted us in the early part of the year about the best way to print ID cards in-house, when they needed to.

We recommended a Pronto printer with the right software to help them easily and quickly print school ID cards throughout the year. As promoting the community of the school was also important to them, they also had some custom lanyards printed with their own branding and school colours – something that parents in particular always appreciate.

The following year, Deyes High School upgraded their entry-level plastic card printer to the Evolis Dualysis printer – capable of much more powerful performance, and continue to order consumables from us.

A different look for sixth form

Custom printed lanyards don’t just help to unite the school together; they also act as a visual identification. Deyes High School ordered some custom lanyards in 2011 specifically for their sixth form students – making it easy to identify pupils from a distance.

100 custom printed lanyards, printed to your own design start from just £130.20.

Search our range of school ID cards or plastic card printer packages.

Stay safe at festivals: protect your ID & cards

Protect yourself from ID theft at festivals this summer

If you’re off to a festival this summer, take extra care to protect your personal belongings. And we don’t just mean your sunglasses and camera: fraudsters only need 3 items of personal information to steal your identity.

Avoid being the victim of identity theft

Here are some tips for staying safe:

– Take only the essentials with you. Take one debit/credit card as your main card, plus another as back-up in case one gets lost/stolen. Make sure you keep them separate from each other. Empty out your purse or wallet and leave the others at home

– Keep any ID cards (like your driving licence, passport or any card that contains personal information like date of birth or address) separate from your bank cards

– Make sure your smartphone is locked by a PIN. Your phone can provide fraudsters with access to a lot of personal details

– Don’t leave any valuables in your tent, and sleep with your ID cards / bank cards at the bottom of your sleeping bag

– Use designated lock-up areas if they’re available for your belongings when you’re not in your tent.

If the worst does happen and your ID cards and bank cards are stolen, make sure you have the phone number for your bank with you, so you can quickly cancel them.

Credit reference agency Equifax has also released an app, specifically to coincide with festival time, which will allow you to check your credit report immediately to see if there have been any suspicious transactions.

Don’t let the thought of having your ID cards and personal possessions stolen stop you from having a great time. By taking some simple precautions, you can greatly minimise the risk of fraudsters accessing your bank account and stealing your identity.


Stepping up access control in schools: is biometrics the answer?

Biometrics information
Biometrics will increase security, but how many will opt out?

Security is always at the forefront of the school agenda, and never more so than recently. More educational establishments are embracing the many benefits presented by access control reader systems in terms of identifying and controlling who enters their buildings. In most cases this means presenting staff and pupils with access control key cards, fobs or tokens – which often double up as ID cards.

Biometrics offers more security and peace of mind   

Some institutions are now looking at increasing the level of protection offered by access control solutions, and that search inevitably leads them towards biometrics.

Installing a biometrics system is an obvious choice for schools in many ways: it negates the threat of stolen or lost tokens, it prevents the misuse of entry cards and ‘tail gaiting’ and on a simple level, does away with the ‘But I forgot my card/fob today’ scenario. In simple terms, a system employing biometrics prevents entry to anyone who doesn’t have a right to be there.

So why aren’t more schools going down the biometrics route?

The Protection of Freedoms Act

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (which comes into force in September 2013) makes that decision a great deal trickier. Under the terms of the Act, schools and colleges will need to notify and gain consent from parents if they intend to use and store their children’s biometric information. But pupils themselves will also be able to refuse to participate, even if their parents have consented.

This new legislation applies to the storing of biometric information such as fingerprints, eye retinas and irises, voice patterns, facial patterns and hand measurements.

Where a pupil or parent refuses consent, the school/college will have to provide an alternative. Which means they could end up with a mix of security systems in place: not ideal for administration or equality, not to mention the bottom line.

Access control manufacturers such as TDSi see this as an opportunity for education providers rather than a threat. They regard it as an opportunity to future-proof security systems and offer real choice. They advocate a multi-format access control reader that (as the name suggests) offers multi format security options (biometric, token or pin). Doing so means there will be choice now and in the future as the security market continues to rapidly develop.

Schools and colleges will need to weigh up the pros and cons for themselves, and see if biometrics is the right route.

Read more about what TDSi think here.