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New System Helps DMV Deal with Rush of Driver’s License Applicants

A new document verification program at the California DMV is helping put a stop to fraudulent identification cards and drivers’ licenses.

The Coesys Document Verification System from international security company Gemalto enhances California DMV workers’ ability to verify documents, said Neville Pattinson, the company’s senior vice president of government programs in North America.

“The existing process of applying for a driver’s license in California required the human DMV employee to do a manual verification,” Pattinson explained. Although the workers went though a lot of training to make that those verification determinations, Pattinson said the “technology is giving them an extra tool they can use equally to perform a much more forensic evaluation of the documents.”

The DMV confirmed the new solution was rolled out earlier this year.

“In March 2015, the DMV started using a Document Authentification Device (DAD) to electronically authenticate some source/identity documents,” wrote Jessica Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the California DMV, in an email. “The DAD is a tool to assist DMV in enhancing the security of the DL/ID [driver’s license and identification] card application process by matching the document to a template in the DAD software library.”

Gonzalez further explained that the new DAD process doesn’t entirely replace the current process that’s in place at all DMV offices, and that primary and secondary document verification is still required.

“This enhanced application review process provides greater security and enhances the primary and/or secondary verification process for fraud protection,” she wrote.

Pattinson said the project stemmed from AB 60, new legislation that allows undocumented applicants to obtain a driver’s license. “Obviously the state provides training, but they can only go so far. We provide the extra security,” Pattinson added.

The sheer number of document types the DMV workers were required to be trained on — and expected to spot a fake in — numbered in the hundreds, Pattinson explained.

With the new computer program, the full extent of DMV offices and stations, which total more than 500, can be upgraded simultaneously and overnight to identify legitimate state documents. All of the terminals look and work exactly the same, Pattinson said, so that a DMV employee from Southern California would be able to work on a sister machine in Northern California.

The project’s duration — from bidding to installation — took only a few months, he said. Gemalto provided the programming; the state of California provided the computers and hardware.

Pattinson stressed the importance of the system being “highly applicable” to more entities than just the California DMV, and he suggested it could be used at places like airport security checkpoints and banks — anywhere a citizen might have an important interaction with necessary legal documents.

“It takes away the need for the documentarian to become a document expert,” Pattinson said.

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