Secure Issuance

Latest printer/encoder solutions support centralized, distributed models for driver’s licenses

The United States is looking for better and more cost-effective ways to serve its more than 220 million licensed drivers. Driver’s license issuing bodies have traditionally either issued these credentials in a central location using high-volume printing systems or deployed desktop printers at local sites to print and issue them on the spot, using a distributed printing model. Now, a new class of desktop printers/encoders gives issuers both options in a single solution.

A centralized card issuance solution offers benefits, including low cost per card, better economization of supplies, simplified operator training and system maintenance. Despite these advantages, there are many motivations for moving to a distributed card printing solution.

One of the most obvious is the benefit of no longer having to manage a remote card issuance and delivery process. Drivers wanting instant gratification can receive their licenses immediately, and the government saves taxpayers’ money by eliminating mailing costs. Additionally, the distributed solution avoids the risk of card loss and reduces the time required to fix any errors since everything is done locally. Finally, the distributed model enables issuers to verify the identity of the person who receives the card.

The latest desktop printer and encoder solutions support both issuance models. They combine the high-volume reliability and advanced credentialing features of large centralized printers with the lower cost and smaller footprint required for the distributed printing model. These ruggedized desktop units can be pooled to handle large-volume, centralized card runs or can be deployed individually for onthe- spot card issuance at selected offices.

The licensing authority also can deploy a combination of both centralized and distributed printing solutions throughout the branch network and scale them up or down depending on changing volume requirements.

To optimize effectiveness, the distributed issuance model requires high-dutycycle printing solutions that are easily scalable, decrease operational and service costs and maximize output of finished credentials with any combination of physical, electronic or visual personalization. A distributed system can be either structured in a grouped configuration, in which multiple printer/encoder units can be networked in one place to produce moderate to increasingly larger volumes in continuous batch runs, or a geographically dispersed configuration that can be securely networked and share one or more common or centrally managed databases. This also provides the added benefit of ensuring there is redundant equipment in case of an individual printer problem or repair requirement.

A third option is to leverage the benefits of each of these approaches and combine geographically dispersed groups of printer and encoder units, which provides the insurance of site redundancy.

There are a number of key criteria to consider in choosing a driver’s license printing and encoding solution. The first is flexible print technology to support the growing trend of specifying higher-value, longer-lasting and more secure cards, such as laser-engraved polycarbonate cards, enhanced credentials incorporating UHF RFID inlays and IC chips. Retransfer technology is particularly important, delivering the ability to produce crisp, high-definition images on technology cards made from a variety of materials, including those with embedded electronics.

Other key selection criteria include system reliability and performance, as well as operational convenience and system scalability. The modular architecture of distributed card issuance systems enables greater versatility and flexibility, as long as field-upgradeable modules are available to meet current or future specialized credential needs.

Finally, the solution should have a proven track record with large licensing authorities that produce millions of cards across dozens of issuing sites annually. Driver’s license issuing bodies are under increasing pressure to reduce costs and improve efficiency while enhancing customer service. The latest modular, high-volume printer and encoder systems deliver a high level of flexibility for deploying a combination of reliable centralized and distributed secure issuance solutions.

This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

Alan Fontanella is the vice president of product marketing at HID Global.

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