A five-year contract extension with an Oregon-based company will enable Idaho to incorporate additional security features on driver’s licenses, personal I.D. cards and other state-issued cards.
Since 2002, Digimarc Corp. of Beaverton, Ore., has been Idaho’s vendor, providing driver license software and a card production system. The transportation department recently extended the contract through 2012 at no increase in production cost per card, explains Ed Pemble, Driver Services manager.
Digimarc offers security features that “strengthen the process of capturing and verifying applicant identity information while ensuring high levels of customer service,” according to the company.
Idaho will become the 20th state to adopt Digimarc IDMarc digital watermarking, made possible by production of cards at a highly sophisticated and specialized central production facility.
The switch, from “over-the-counter” issuance to “central issuance” of cards produced at a vendor-provided facility is planned for sometime in 2008 and will make the card upgrade possible. The technology provides a machine-readable security feature to help prevent driver license counterfeiting, alteration and photo swapping, company officials said in announcing the extended agreement.
“Digital watermarking is an imperceptible, machine-readable security feature that enables reliable cross-jurisdictional authentication of U.S. driver licenses using commonly available scanners with special software.”
Idaho issues more than 350,000 drivers licenses, identification and special permit cards annually. Under the extended contract, the number of security features contained in those cards will more than double, making Idaho’s cards more difficult to duplicate or counterfeit. Idaho officials will have the ability to select the level and type of security enhancements to incorporate in cards issued after 2007.
Along with the expected change to centralized production of licenses and cards in 2008, Digimarc will upgrade camera equipment and software and remove laminators and printers from the county driver licensing offices. With central issuance, driver’s licenses and ID cards will be sent out in the mail, which will be a final validity check of the address provided by the applicant.
These card changes and operational changes will help prepare the state for some of the known requirements of the REAL-ID Act, including:
• Increased security standards for cards; and
Full implementation of the identity, citizenship and documentation standards of REAL ID will require changes in Idaho law and funding provisions for the significant costs associated with personnel, hardware, software and infrastructure changes.