Even though Operation ID is still promoted worldwide by law enforcement professionals, the technology has not advanced in decades. Developing a simple and convenient strategy where all the citizens of the world can license their personal property, like they do a motor vehicle, has been an elusive quest.
License plate distribution systems
Placing a license plate on a car is a century-old process. The license plate is mailed to you only after the motor vehicle is registered. In its inception, the strategy was managed using library card catalogs. A person would purchase a motor vehicle and a form would be filled in that included the name and address of the owner, and the make, model and serial number of the car. This information would be stored in three cataloging systems: by name, by serial number and by license plate number.
Enterprise asset management (EAM)
For millennia, large institutions have been tracking their property. Think of the world’s largest military forces. Every stick of property has to be tracked. This is similar to a car licensing system except for internal use only. Imagine a giant central warehouse where a variety of items come through the door. A clerk “licenses” an item by affixing what is known as an “asset tag” to each item, recording the make, model and serial number, and who and where the item is assigned.
The consumer product era
Mass produced consumer products have serial numbers, so errors in manufacturing can be easily isolated. In the 1960s, law enforcement professionals realized that if citizens kept a record of the serial numbers, items could be repatriated in the event of a crime or loss. Like a license plate or asset tag, each property owner needed to “mark” their property with a number that could be traced back to them. Initially that was a Social Security number. In the 1970s, police began recommending a driver’s license number followed by the 2-letter state abbreviation.
Miniaturized enterprise asset management (mEAM)
Today, we have rapidly learned that sharing personal information is a bad idea. The idea of marking property with a Social Security number or driver’s license number is laughable in this day and age. The internet has created an opportunity to connect people to their property without divulging personal information. It’s called “proxy marking.” It’s a DIY licensing strategy for citizens that helps the police in the event of a theft and helps Good Samaritans in the event of a loss.