The California Horse Racing Board has introduced a newly developed digital photo identification system into the licensing process at all racetracks in the state. The board and racing associations could use the automated system to enhance security in restricted areas.As licensees and other racing participants apply for new or renewal licenses at any of the CHRB's licensing offices, their photographs will be taken and stored digitally in the Board's database. Pertinent information is contained in a barcode on the back of the identification card, which is printed instantly by the system. Horse owners, trainers, jockeys, and grooms are among those who would be affected.The process requires less than half the time of the old manual method of snapshots and lamination, and the information stored in the system is more readily accessible to all authorized personnel with access to the CHRB database. With the photo of each licensee stored in the system with an embedded barcode encrypted algorithm, the process makes it virtually impossible to counterfeit licenses or assume another person's identity to obtain a license.The concept of automating the Board's licensing process was first discussed more than 10 years ago, but budget limitations and the absence of any off-the-shelf products that could fully meet the CHRB's needs prevented implementation. Eventually, the Board agreed to develop the system in-house using the CHRB's information technology staff.Systems analyst Terry Martin, working under the supervision of chief information officer Mory Atashkar, developed the system from the ground up.
"Terry must be a genius," said Atashkar. "It's almost unheard of for anyone to overcome all of the obstacles that Terry had to overcome in such a short period of time and with such limited resources. He deserves all the credit."The final product meets all of the CHRB's requirements, according to licensing supervisor Laura Sandoval, who demonstrated the system at Los Alamitos. As soon as she entered the name of a licensee applying for renewal, the system brought up his file on screen. He stood in front of the camera, and the resulting image was displayed instantly on the screen for permanent storage. The identification card printed within two minutes.The barcode on the back of the photo currently contains only the licensee's name, license number, status, and internal CHRB processing information. But Atashkar said the system was designed with the capability of expanding to include much more information and be used for other applications."Photo ID is one part of a bigger puzzle that we envision," said Atashkar. "Exactly what we do with the system is a policy decision to be made by the CHRB executive staff and racing commissioners, but we have provided them with a tool to provide a better future for the horse-racing industry."Roy Minami, CHRB's assistant executive director and an early advocate of the photo ID system, said it would be possible to use the identification cards at the entrances to the stable areas and other restricted areas."We aren't that far along yet, but we might be able provide the racing associations with limited access to a portion of our database," said Minami. "I'm sure the racetracks will come up with ideas for other uses of the system."