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GCN : July 2014
NEARLY 10 YEARS after the release of Homeland Secu- rity Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), the goal of "secure and reliable forms of identification" for govern- ment employees and contrac- tors has not yet been met. Still, some relatively mature technologies are be- ing used in interesting ways for employee IDs. The level of interaction, and also the level of employee tracking, is going nowhere but up. One example is Personal Duress Alarm System ID badges currently in use in California's Napa State Hospital. I had a chance to visit the hospital recently to see a demonstration of the ID badges warn by staff mem- bers as they move around the hospital grounds. Often the staff works among patients who have a variety of psychi- atric disorders and some- times violent histories. The badges include bidi- rectional radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags that can be read by sensors located in campus buildings. Information is sent over the psychiatric hospital's Wi-Fi network to provide real-time location of the 2,300 employ- ees. Staff location data shows up as icons on real-time cam- pus maps monitored by the hospital's security staff. Every ID is also capable of triggering an alarm. Staff members who run into trouble tug the ID down a little in order to activate the signal. INTERNAUT BY SHAWN McCARTHY Once the ID sends an alarm, that person's icon (the one shown on the moni- tor in the hospital's security office) changes color. The alarm signal also is relayed to nearby staffers who can help. The data transmitted includes information on the staffer whose ID was trig- gered, complete with name and photo. The Napa project started in 2011 (after the murder of a staff member by a patient in 2010). It has been con- sidered successful enough that it has been expanded to other state hospitals, and may be tested soon in Cali- fornia prisons. The Napa example is a great illustration of how ID badges can be used to improve worker safety and enhance emergency com- munication. However, this type of tech- nology also has the potential to be used by employers to track something as basic as how often a worker steps outside for a cigarette or how often he sits at their desk. And, as we head toward ubiquitous connectivity, the credentials we carry could be used to identify us wher- ever we go. Meanwhile, we are seeing smart cards becoming the preferred credential in many ID systems. That means gov- ernment offices might soon find they need to move away from magnetic stripe cards and even more recent prox- imity card systems. Smart cards can be designed with a challenge and response progression as they interact with a network, and their traffic can be encrypted in a variety of ways. This makes them harder to spoof. And as government net- works become increasingly cloud based, access control management is becom- ing more easily federated. That means that the access control management can be based in cloud solutions hosted by a third party, rather than supporting mul- tiple forms of ID and sign-on systems. It also tends to mean lowered costs and condensed management and distribution times. But, again, these types of sign-on systems also can be used to track highly personal employee information, such as time and attendance, system and resource access, payments - if supported (for use of copy machines, cafeteria purchases, vending machines, etc.) or checking special agency equipment into or out of a facility. Another method of ID management is based on near field communications. A smartphone enabled with NFC could allow employees to use their own phones as their access credential to get into a building or to log into networks. With all of these ID op- tions on the horizon, chief security officers and access control managers (whether they work with IT security or physical security) need to choose access control systems that can easily be upgraded. They also need to move toward an enterprise architecture that covers ID interactions across all facilities. This architecture should be able to accom- modate emerging access control technologies in order to support future system expansion. • --- Shawn McCarthy is research director for IDC Government Insights. 16 GCN JULY 2014 • GCN.COM With so many ID options on the horizon, chief security officers and access control managers need to choose access systems that can easily be upgraded. The future of government ID cards