Cities start issuing municipal ID cards
Credentials enable and control access to local services
21 December, 2015
category: Financial, Government
NYC sets big-city model
New York City is the most high-profile city of late to adopt a municipal ID program. In January, the city launched its NYC ID program and has since enrolled 530,000 cardholders, making it the country’s largest municipal ID program. “Response has been extraordinary,” says city spokeswoman Rosemary Boeglin.
At the onset of the program, demand exceeded expectation, and the city had to implement an appointment-based system for enrollment. Appointments take about 20 minutes, and cards are mailed out to residents within 10 to 14 business days.
Boeglin says the program enables the city government to work more effectively and efficiently by expanding access to the services, programs and opportunities available for city residents. “We believe it is vital for all of our city’s residents, regardless of immigration or economic status, to be able to access government, interact safely with law enforcement and feel secure in their communities,” she says.
All city residents age 14 and older are eligible to receive a municipal ID card. Enrollment is free for anyone who applies during the first year of the program, with IDs being valid for five years.
To establish identity in order to obtain an ID, applicants can use any of more than 40 documents, such as a foreign driver license, birth certificate, green card, utility bill or school ID card. Applicants need to present at least four documents. Of those documents:
- at least three need to prove identity
- at least one needs to prove residency
- at least one must include a photo of the applicant (if the applicant is over the age of 21)
- at least one must include the applicant’s date of birth.
Each ID features the cardholder’s photograph, date of birth, eye color, height and a unique ID number. The card is also available in 25 languages.
The IDs come equipped with several security features, including an embedded hologram, an applicant signature, an engraved city seal and a secondary black-and-white “ghost” photo of the applicant.
Technology firms PruTech Solutions, Inc. and MorphoTrust USA won bids to develop the card enrollment program for $3 million. The city also contracted with St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M to print the cards on polycarbonate card stock.
Among the card’s uses, residents can access city services, check out library books and take the high school equivalency exam. The New York Police Department also recognizes the card.
During the program’s inaugural year, cardholders receive free one-year memberships to 33 of the city’s cultural institutions, including the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park Zoo, as well as receive discounts on prescription drugs and health club memberships. Residents can also use the card to open a bank account at more than a dozen financial institutions. However, residents cannot use the ID to board an airplane, drive or obtain a driver license.
Detroit drafts ID program
Following the attention New York received for its NYC ID, other cities have set the wheels in motion or are at least considering their own municipal ID programs.
Detroit is positioned to be one of the next cities to roll out a program and could start issuing ID cards to residents as early as the first quarter of next year. Over the summer, the Detroit City Council drafted an ordinance to establish the program.
City Council Member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez says the Council’s goal is to complete a final draft late this year and then launch the program in the first three to six months of 2016. “We strongly believe being recognized is a basic human right,” she says.
We strongly believe being recognized is a basic human right.
— Raquel Castaneda-Lopez, Detroit City Council Member
City estimates indicate that 15% to 20% of Detroit’s 688,700 residents are in need of an ID, although its goal is to enroll 30% of the population, Castaneda-Lopez says.
Neighboring Washtenaw County, Mich., implemented its own ID program earlier this year and has been assisting Detroit with the drafting process. The city is also working with libraries and local nonprofits to provide facilities where people can obtain the IDs. Costs of the program are still being determined.
Castaneda-Lopez said the program will likely follow a similar model to that of New York, offering access to city services and discounts at local businesses, and might eventually consider linking the card to public transit.
“We’re hoping to remove some of the barriers certain communities face in getting the recognition to take advantage of city and community resources,” she says.