The Ultimate ID Badge Lifecycle

Note: the words badge and ID card are used interchangeably in this post

The traditional, plastic ID card lifecycle leaves much to be desired. It’s creation, use, and destruction are, in many ways, open ended. We’ll discuss the limitations of each phase of the badge lifecycle, and in turn, how digital ID’s can improve on these limitations.

At its inception, the plastic ID badge must be printed out of raw materials, necessitating card stock and a badge printer. If the badges are sent out remotely, they take several days or longer after the application paperwork has been submitted. If printed out in person, they require a station and full time managing staff member. 

In contrast, digital ID’s can be created almost instantaneously, do not require any hardware or waste of raw material, and do not necessitate extra staff. As explained in our rapid intake post, the digital ID onboarding mechanism is definitive and does not suffer from paperwork delays and other impediments that cause the process to drag on. 


During its main phase of use, the plastic ID card can be subject to wear and tear, misplacement, loss, theft, borrowing, counterfeiting, or editing. The lack of personal attachment, subsequent carelessness, that badge holders have towards their badges frequently results in lost cards, and consequential waste of time and cost in replacing them. Even more problematic, from a liability standpoint, are false positive identifications that can result from theft or fraud. While these case scenarios represent a premature end to the badge lifecycle, digital ID’s do not suffer from early terminations. Smartphones are retained with greater care by their users, and counterfeiting and false positives are not possible with digital ID security features.


When the natural end of a job or visit has come for an employee, temp, contractor, or visitor, badges should be turned in and decommissioned. Instead, what often happens is that the badge holder forgets to turn in their badge and walks off with it, leaving a gap in the access control protocols. Fired, disgruntled employees may intentionally walk off with a badge, raising even greater access control concerns. At the highest end of liability, employees may have committed a crime that disqualifies further employment, yet the physical badge may still remain in their possession.

Digital ID’s eliminate all of these potential problems because they can be remotely deactivated; when employment tenure or conditions for employment have ended, the ID simply disappears and leaves no physical trace behind.

Bringing it all together

Where as the plastic ID lifecycle may seen as “open ended” (where does it begin?; where does it end?), digital ID’s have what can be described as a closed system lifecycle.

Across the three phases of the lifecycle of the digital ID, open ends are closed:

  • The intake process is rapid; it does not drag on through needless delays.
  • The identification use is secure; it does not leave doubts about the background of the badge holder and does not accidentally terminate.
  • The deactivation process is definitive; it does not leave lingering questions of “can this person still access our sites?”.

An ID that has definitive edges and boundaries to its lifecycle helps stakeholders to have definitive starting points and ending points to each participant’s access control.