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.”

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?
What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?

Perimeter security is the first line of defence against intruders entering a business or premises. Traditionally associated with low-tech options such as fencing, the field of perimeter security has expanded in recent years and now encompasses a range of high-tech options. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the latest trends in perimeter security technology?

Secure access control is helping to shape the post-pandemic world
Secure access control is helping to shape the post-pandemic world

With the continued rolling back of COVID restrictions in the UK, there is a palpable sense of relief. A mixture of mass vaccinations, widespread testing, and track and tracing of the infection is helping to enable a healthy bounce back for businesses – with secure access control taking an important role in facilitating this. However, rather than just being a reaction to the wake of the pandemic, there is every sign that the economy, and consequently the security sector as well, are both rebuilding and reshaping for the long-term new normal. Prioritising Safety Already deemed an essential service even during the first wave of the pandemic, the security industry has of course taken a vital role in protecting people and property throughout the crisis. Now that venues in the UK are starting to reopen again, our services are key to occupancy management and ensuring that disease transmission is limited as far as possible. Access control is also key in reassuring people that their safety is a priority. Making the upgrade It’s all been about choosing the most suitable components and technology that already existed with a few “tweaks”  Businesses and organisations have a duty of care to their employees and the safety of visitors – so controlling access, employing lateral flow testing, and deploying suitable Track & Trace mechanisms are all key components. I think those outside our industry are surprised to learn that most of the technology being deployed and used hasn’t just magically developed since COVID appeared – it’s all been about choosing the most suitable components and technology that already existed albeit with a few development “tweaks” or adjustments for the situation at hand. This includes using or installing facial recognition readers rather than using fingerprint or contact tokens, it is swapping to automatic request to exit sensors instead of buttons; it is using powered secure doors rather than having people all grab the same handle. Using mobile credentials is also a key technology choice – why not use the highly secure, easy to manage, cost-effective, and of course contact-free benefits of this approach? Touchless solutions We have seen a clear shift in organisations looking to protect their staff and visitors. For instance, we have a big utility customer in Southeast Asia that has just replaced close to 200 sites using fingerprint readers with an additional facial recognition capability. We have also seen a big rise in demand for touchless request to exit sensors and Bluetooth Low Energy Readers for use with smartphone authentication. Working together Integration of security systems is of course nothing new, but in the post-pandemic or endemic age, it has perhaps never been more important. Installations need to be simple, straightforward, and rapid to help maintain safe distancing but also to ensure systems can be deployed as soon as they are needed. The world is changing and developing rapidly and there is simply no place for systems that don’t work with others or cause the end-user considerable cost and inconvenience to upgrade. This flexible delivery of security solutions perfectly matches the evolving and increasing demands of the market. It’s clear that end-users want systems that work well and can easily integrate with their existing systems – not only security but all the other business components which work in unison with each other over a shared network. Great opportunities ahead The recent work-from-home trend is also clearly changing the way organisations and businesses interact with the built environment. Lots of companies are downsizing, offices are being split up, there is lots of revitalisation and reuse of existing office space – all of which creates considerable opportunities for security providers. UK inflation more than doubled in April 2021 with unemployment figures dropping and the Pound rising in value There are also, in the UK at least, clear signs that the construction industry is rapidly growing again -with a forecast of 8% rebound and growth this year. UK inflation more than doubled in April 2021 with unemployment figures dropping and the Pound rising in value – all positive signs for UK-based security providers. Undoubtedly the highly successful UK vaccination rollout has helped considerably, but there are signs that the Eurozone looks set to improve considerably over the next few months as well. Using integrated access control Undoubtedly the pandemic has made security markets around the world more aware of the benefits of integrated access control in managing the needs of the new normal COVID endemic environment. For example, as a business, we have always had keen interest from the UK healthcare sector, but over the last 12 months, we have seen a big growth in previously modest international markets including Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand – all of which are very keen to adopt improved access control solutions. Learning the lessons Nobody would deny the last year or so has been unprecedentedly tough on everyone, as a society we have had to make huge changes and sacrifices. Governments, organisations, and businesses all need to be better prepared in the future, to understand the things that went wrong and those that were successful. However, there is a world beyond the immediate pandemic and its effects. Flexible working practices and the changes these will have to the way we live and work will undoubtedly present great opportunities for the security sector in helping the world evolve. The pandemic has been a wake-up call for many organisations with regards to their duty of care to employees – particularly when it comes to mental health and providing a sensible work/life balance. Where we work and the safety of these facilities has received far more scrutiny than before. Flexible security systems Integrated security solutions have a vital role to play in not only protecting the safety of people during the post-lockdown return to work but also in the evolution of the built environment and move towards smart cities - which inevitably will now need to consider greater flexibility in securing home working spaces rather than just traditional places of work. Importantly, powerful access control and integrated security systems need to be flexible to the uncertainties ahead. The COVID pandemic has shown that nothing can be considered certain, except the need for greater flexibility and resilience in the way we operate our professional and personal interactions.

Which security technologies will be useful in a post-pandemic world?
Which security technologies will be useful in a post-pandemic world?

In the past few weeks, the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel has brightened, providing new levels of hope that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. Dare we now consider what life will be like after the pandemic is over? Considering the possible impact on our industry, we asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Which security technologies will be most useful in a post-pandemic world?