Standards needed for first-responder ID cards, industry group says

The Federal Emergency Management Agency should establish the federal employee identity card technical standard as the foundation for a nationwide credential for emergency response officials, according to the Smart Card Alliance.

Federal Information Processing Standard 201 governs the production of identification cards for millions of federal employees and contractors. The alliance suggested in a white paper that secure credentials for first responders should be based on FIPS 201.

“Implementing Emergency Response Official credentials that function nationwide requires use of a common technology platform,” the white paper states. “Fortunately, the FIPS 201 standard supports this requirement.”

FIPS 201 includes not only technical compatibility for the card but also conformance to standards for readers and rules on how the cards are vetted and issued.

Among other functions, FIPS 201 identification cards could be used to control access to incident scenes, emergency operations centers and mobile operations centers. They also could allow first responders to restrict access to networks and applications, the alliance said. The cards could also be used to control access to equipment and keyless access to vehicles.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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