Federal Regulations Changing the Way of Port Identification
As with any program, initial rollout of TWIC proved sluggish. The TSA realized that changes were to be made, since the 1.2 million individuals that were projected to enroll and utilize TWIC were taking much too long to check into their assigned areas. These individuals include, “Coast Guard-credentialed merchant mariners, port facility employees, long shore workers, truck drivers and others requiring unescorted access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels regulated by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002,” according to TSA.
TSA decided the best option would be to incorporate an additional layer of security with a biometric solution. This would require all workers to present a smart card that contains all background check information plus a biometric of some sort.
Port of Los Angeles
Unlike other biometric solutions, vascular patterns on the back of the hand are highly unique, and cannot be duplicated. This particular system also requires the actual blood flow through a live vein. Dual verification happens when the smart card and the vascular biometric is checked against each other, further increasing security at the Port.
Because of the quick throughput of the system, workers’ identification is verified quickly, which helps deter lines and wait time during ID checks.
Skin conditions, such as callused hands, scars or dirt, will not interfere with the identification process, either. And unlike biometric systems that read irises, this vascular biometric system works in all lighting conditions.
The Port of Savannah, Ga., which is particularly committed to the rules and regulations of its facilities, chose to use a vascular biometric permanently to screen its visitors.
Port of Houston Authority
The Port of Houston Authority (PHA) has included handheld card reader technology from Datastrip and Code-bench. Almost 7,000 workers have been enrolled in the Houston TWIC cardholder program.
“The Port of Houston Authority’s top priority is to maintain a secure port that ensures individuals who pose a threat do not gain access to secure areas of the nation’s maritime transportation system,” said Bill Crews, port security and emergency operations manager at PHA. “The TWIC solution allowed us to enroll thousands of transportation workers into our existing access control system in a timely manner in order to take full advantage of the increased security layer offered by the TWIC process.”
To meet the April 15 compliance deadline, PHA initiated an aggressive outreach program through which authorities visited trucking companies to remotely enroll drivers using mobile readers.
Once back at the port, the data was transmitted from the handheld devices to the port’s existing AMAG Symmetry physical access control system. The software checks cardholder data against the TSA hotlist twice daily and notifies PHA if a cardholder appears on the list.
The U.S. Coast Guard will use the card readers and software to confirm the identity of TWIC cardholders during regular inspections as well as random spot checks. Additionally, this software has been installed in four of the Port’s desktop computers so that TWIC cards can be registered on-site.
Ports around the country are beta testing and sampling TWIC program-related technology in order to narrow down the best solution for its particular identification needs and environment. TSA, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, will be using the test-run systems for a while until a final determination can be made.