By Zack Martin, Editor
More than 100 enrollment centers have been opened and 90,000 cards have been activated for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential. At some point this year ports also are supposed to start testing card and biometric readers for the TWIC, says Gena Alexa, identification solutions architect in the Federal Systems Group at Unisys Corp. Alexa made the comments during a session at the CTST Conference, May 13-15 in Orlando, Fla. Unisys has been contracted to handle the TWIC deployment at the Port of LA in California.
One of the main issues for port operators, especially container terminals, is that terminal operator personnel make up a small percentage of the actual people coming in and out of the facility, Alexa says. The rest of the people coming in and out are not directly known from day to day.
In the Los Angeles/Long Beach area there are approximately 20,000 longshoremen that serve both ports, she says. On a given day, a container terminal may need 200 or more longshoremen per shift. The 200 that arrive to work for each shift will come out of the 20,000 local longshoremen but the terminal doesn’t necessarily directly know them. The situation is similar for the thousands of truckers who deliver and pick up containers each day.
This environment makes it difficult to manage access under TWIC enforcement guidelines. Most access control systems enable access during specific shifts or during specific times of the day, Alexa says. But since the terminal operators don’t directly employ or know who will be working a shift on any given day, it presents a challenge. One of the main priorities for TWIC is making sure it doesn’t impact the business of the ports and that longshoremen and truck drivers are able to efficiently access secure areas of the facility.
“Terminal operators are focused on maintaining efficient operations, and if it takes longer to get people in and out of their facilities it could ultimately impact productivity and cost them more money,” she says. “We need to come up with solutions to verify the TWIC card that will minimize the impact on port operations.”
There’s also some question as to how cardholders will use the credential. The card will include a magnetic stripe, as well as contact and contactless chips. A TWIC “privacy key” will be stored on the mag stripe and contact chip. In order to verify the biometric from the card the privacy key, which decrypts the biometric data, will have to be read by either inserting or swiping the card.
There is some question as to how this will work, Alexa says. A potential solution could be to register the privacy key once at the facility and then the cardholder will be able to use the contactless feature of the card.
The availability of readers is also an issue, as well as the devices durability, and how the system will be set up for truck drivers, Alexa says. Facilities need to make sure drivers can access the readers easily from their cab. Tests scheduled for later this year will examine these issues and come up with solutions.