MD and VA to roll out standardized IDs for first responders

Published 3 January 2007

$1.5 million in grants from the Urban Area Security Initiative lay the groundwork; first responder authentication credential will improve disaster area management; card incorporates fingerprint biometrics

Those in the emergency recovery business spend a lot of time thinking about interoperability. It is a big concern because any disaster worthy of the name requires the assistance of multiple agencies up and down the federal-state-municipal structure. Having them all on the same page, as it were, speeds things up, increases efficiency, and saves lives. Most of the time, interoperbaility means radios and other equipment, but the term can also be used to describe the pupose of the “first responder authentication credential,” or FRAC.

Developed by Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Johnson Controls as part of a consortium — and paid for with $1.5 million in grants from the Urban Area Security Initiative — the FRAC is a standardized ID card that helps manage access to the scene of an emergency.The credentials “know who you are, they know what you are in terms of your qualifications and skills, and they know your security clearance,” said Steven Mondul, Virginia’s deputy assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness. The system — which relies on the same standards and technology as a similar program for federal emergency responders — incorporates a person’s identity documents, professional background, a photograph, and a digitized fingerprint that serves as biometric identification.

Four thousand first responders in Northern Virginia will receive the credentials, as will 3,500 in Maryland.

-read more in this SecurityInfoWatch report