Well-Designed Badges Help Prevent Loss

The right ID can stop a criminal in his tracks.


A visitor's escort should collect the temporary badge as the visitor leaves, but if the badge is not retrieved, there is no significant loss. Since these badges contain no access technology, they aren't expensive. The badge can be printed out at the location where the visitor will gain access to the facility. Some software packages allow the visitor's sponsor to initiate the badge issuing process from the PC in their office and have it automatically print in the lobby or access gate. This approach requires forms and a database that will provide the security department with a history of the visitors at a facility.

Color Consistency
As mentioned, colors may be used to visually categorize badges. But if the color quality is not consistent across the badge printing locations, personnel may have trouble determining the category of a given badge with a quick glance.

One way to address this problem is to select a color standard, such as Pantone. Such standards reference colors more specifically than just "blue" or "red"; they break colors down into percentages of basic primary hues. This ensures greater consistency between badge design and creation programs.

However, consistency problems will still exist at the printing level. Printer ribbons in different printers may output slightly different results, regardless of the consistency of the color ID that is sent to them. Colors will vary slightly between different ribbon or printer manufacturers. The volume that prints at a given printer and the time that elapses between prints will also affect the color. The heat developed during printing will cause the colors to change, so the more badges printed at one time, the more variation you'll see. Standardizing on a given manufacturer can mitigate many of these potential problems. The standard should include model numbers for printers, ribbons, cameras and laminators. Even the color used for the photo background should be specified. Off the shelf software that sends the badging information to the printer can be customized and sent to each badging area. In this way, each badging area software package will properly define colors, mixing of colors and placement of the picture and text on the badge.

Anti-Counterfeiting Measures
No matter how unique your badge designs are, a counterfeiter with the right resources can copy them unless you incorporate visual anti-counterfeit features.

Holograms are common counterfeiting deterrents. They are normally added to the clear overlay placed over the printed badge. A hologram is difficult to duplicate and provides a sophisticated appearance that can add to the company's desired security image. You can buy standardized holograms already on a laminate, or you can have custom holograms, such as your company logo, created for a higher price. Instead of a hologram, the company logo or name can be printed on the clear laminate lightly enough so as not to make the badge information unreadable.

Another variation is using the logo, name or hologram on a tamperproof sticker that can be placed on the badge. There are other anti-counterfeiting measures that require additional equipment to verify a badge's integrity. Ultraviolet printing is one of these. This approach uses an ultraviolet ribbon to print UV-sensitive images or text on the badge. A black light is required to view these elements. Some printers mount both a standard color ribbon and an ultraviolet ribbon. That way the same printer can produce the badge as well as additional ultraviolet protection against counterfeiting.

Another approach is the use of invisible alphanumeric type. The type cannot be viewed except with the use of a laser. These approaches provide a high level of security, but require additional equipment and close inspection of the badges.

You can also add visual anti-counterfeit features into the text of the badge itself. By adding a symbol, microprint or font variations somewhere on the badge, you can make the badge harder to counterfeit without spending extra on special features. A special symbol can be substituted for a letter or number. An older spelling or a word from a different language can be used-substituting bleu for blue, for instance. These more covert approaches are cost effective, but require very close inspection.

Protecting the Badges from Theft
For all these safeguards to be effective against counterfeiting, you must protect the badging stock, technology encoding equipment and badge printing systems. Badging areas should be secured after hours through access control, alarms and CCTV. Password-protect the badge manufacturing software and access control data entry equipment. If the encoding and printing equipment can be password-protected, it should be. The access to software should automatically time out if not in use.