What if Phoenix creates a unified ID?

April 25, 2015
Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic

What If: Phoenix could consolidate its ID cards into one, but is it worth the effort?

Phoenix lawmakers are discussing plans to merge the various IDs it offers into a single city ID card. Some think the plan would make life a lot simpler while others argue the costs far outweigh the potential benefits. We asked two such lawmakers for their thoughts on the matter:

CONSOLIDATED INFORMATION WOULD SAVE MONEY AND TIME

Laura Pastor, Phoenix City Council member:

In the discussion of having a consolidated Phoenix city services card, we have the opportunity to implement a cost-savings strategy while utilizing modern technology to perform more efficiently.

As a city councilperson, I take my responsibility of employing sound fiscal policies while optimizing our quality of service to Phoenix residents a top priority. Consolidation of the various Phoenix city service cards could potentially save tax dollars while easing a burden on our residents.

The use of technology could be realized in two ways.

One, the production of the card may include a magnetic strip from which the data for the resident can be readily accessed by numerous city departments. Second, internally, rather than managing multiple accounts for one person, the city can more efficiently combine those multiple accounts into one, enabling various departments to better communicate with one another.

I also believe strongly that the City Council has the inherent responsibility in gathering data so we may make informed decisions. I voted for the motion to direct staff to move forward on the project so we may intelligently discuss the technological requirements, costs, and benefits to the consolidation of city service cards.

Appropriately researching what models to implement regarding data sharing, storage and most importantly protecting people's personal data are issues I regard as extremely important. Researching those questions now will prove to be fiscally prudent while most effectively serving our residents.

COSTS TOO HIGH FOR CARD THAT DOES TOO LITTLE

Jim Waring, Phoenix City Council member:

The city could potentially spend millions of dollars in startup costs and millions more in annual costs to produce a card that would not serve as valid identification to police officers, according to information presented to the Parks and Arts Subcommittee.

Some suggested taxpayer money should be expended to produce this card because they do not like carrying a card that says Arizona and they would feel better about having a card that says Phoenix. While I do not question their motives, I cannot ask taxpayers to spend money in this fashion when the city is looking at deficits for years.

To the argument that medical information could be stored on these cards, I believe there are ways to do that using new technology and the one ID would soon become obsolete.

Further, Arizona has had a long history of high levels of identity theft. There is no reason to exacerbate the problem by producing another form of ID that would carry no more weight than a library card. What the city should do is produce a simple card that would work at transfer stations, libraries, parks and other city facilities as an efficiency savings.

It is the Legislature's responsibility to determine what is a valid ID. The city is not in a financial position to be expending potentially large dollar amounts on a project that has no definable benefit or is redundant.

The council should address its budget issues and not spend time on what will be an expensive (and ultimately futile) attempt to circumvent immigration laws, which are the federal government's responsibility.

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