City of Los Angeles public offices and employees are located in hundreds of buildings throughout the city including the Civic Center Complex -- which is comprised of Historic City Hall, City Hall East, City Hall South and the Los Angeles Mall -- as well as many other facilities across the greater Los Angeles area. The city’s General Services Department (GSD) manages these facilities, equipment, supplies, security, communication, maintenance and other support services for city departments in a safe, reliable, and efficient manner.
Previously, access management was controlled by multiple disparate legacy systems. Managing this card “system” was a drain on productivity -- forty-one departments were authorized to individually manage key cards and could order any types of cards, which increased both administrative and security tasks. GSD was on the lookout for the next level of access management and control that would provide increased security through an integrated solution of biometric capabilities, read/write-mobile verification, logical access, and perimeter security. Ideally the system would also feature the ability for departments to potentially manage personal employee costs and billing options, such as parking expenses and employee benefits. Additionally, to improve the efforts of first responders in certain types of emergencies, the access system would support multi-agency use for fire, police, and the Red Cross. Finally, it was imperative that the system design take into consideration the absolute need to preserve many of the buildings’ historically significant architecture and infrastructure.
The City of Los Angeles partnered with TRC, one of the leading firms providing security, technical, financial, risk management, and construction services to both industry and government customers. TRC’s solutions team included longtime City of Los Angeles security solutions installer RD Systems and preferred vendor HID Corp. RDS and HID enjoyed previous success in jointly developing integrated solutions. “TRC, HID and RDS are problem solvers,” said Dwayne Healy of the City of Los Angeles’ GSD and the project’s main manager. “The companies were able to draw on their deep government experience, system knowledge and technical expertise to provide a state-of-the-art access control solution that will serve the City for years to come.”
HID’s iCLASS 13.56 MHz contactless smart card and 125 kHz proximity card and reader technologies were selected for its optimized physical access control, IT secure authentication, and flexibility to enable a range of future applications. RDS installed iCLASS readers at existing sites for higher security and read/write capabilities. Many of the card reader installations were in historical buildings such as Historic City Hall, which recently completed a $300 million renovation/preservation. RDS was able to maintain the aesthetics of the building by establishing design guidelines that ensure the system hardware is unobtrusive while maintaining tight security.
The City of Los Angeles has taken advantage of HID’s Corporate 1000 Program which provides a unique 35-bit card format developed specifically for the city. While the current system supports over 10,000 users, the Corporate 1000 Program furnishes over one million plus individual card numbers guaranteeing future expandability of the system. The assigned numbers are tracked during the manufacturing process to ensure that card numbers are never duplicated. These Corporate 1000 cards enable the city to issue a single, universal card for use by employees for multiple purposes – from access to expense tracking. While day-to-day card management is still the primary responsibility of each department, the process has been streamlined and all card orders must be pre-approved by security administration. To combat counterfeiting, a hologram of the city seal was used on the iCLASS® cards. The hologram, embedded during the manufacturing process, has increased security via visual checks for authenticity of each card.
In addition, the iCLASS system has been extended through an integration with V-Pass, a fingerprint biometric reader from Bioscrypt. Biometric readers have been installed at critical facility locations, providing an additional level of access control. An Executive “Fast Pass” program was established for high-level officials, allowing them to gain access utilizing only the biometric input via these custom ordinarily dual verification readers.
The City of Los Angeles smart card project began in the late 1990s, and HID iCLASS technology will enable the city to expand capabilities well into the future. The city will continue to add readers as more buildings are added to the system. Looking forward, the city has already activated a command center, digital CCVS and other system enhancements to augment its access control system. In the near future, iCLASS cards will be utilized to capture significant data such as access control rights, capabilities and special skills offered by first responders including the Red Cross, fire department and highway patrol, as well as personal medical data to ensure appropriate treatment in the event of an emergency. Adds Healy, “This preplanning will pay huge dividends in the event of a multi-agency urban area response effort. Its peace of mind for the City knowing that our card technology affords us this level of growth and logistical flexibility.”