Unisys to run TWIC pilot

Port of Los Angeles prepares for new April 2009 deadline
Sunday, June 1, 2008

LOS ANGELES--Preparing to meet the federal government’s new April 15 2009 deadline for compliance with the Transportation Worker Identification Credentials program, the Port Authority of Los Angeles has contracted with systems integrator Unisys to design and implement a pilot program for an access control systems using smart card and biometric technologies.

The design phase was nearing completion at the end of this April, but Ted Langhoff, Unisys director of port and cargo security, said the implementation is the trickier part. For example, there isn’t yet an approved product list, “so that’s going to have an impact on when we execute certain phases of the plan.”

Further, as of May 10, according to the TSA fewer than 85,000 TWIC cards had been issued, which roughly six percent of the 1.4 million anticipated people nationwide who are expected to need the card and are potential visitors to the port--longshoremen, vendors, delivery truck drivers. If visitors have not been issued TWIC cards, they would not be able to participate correctly in the field test.

“Let’s say the field test is based on the recent ruling that all visitors to a port who require unescorted access will require a TWIC card,” said Langhoff. “If that’s the methodology ... you’ll only be able to let six percent of the visitors [who required unrestricted access to secure areas] into the port. I don’t believe the Coast Guard wants to negatively affect commerce in that way.”

Nor would the field test, at current card-issuance levels, accurately monitor how commerce will be affected once all the cards have actually been issued.

“One thing that’s important for us, at Unisys, is that we view TWIC as a security and operational issue. In order to deploy TWIC in the best way, you need to understand the security objectives in the context of the operational environment.” The big question the pilot program is intended to answer, he said, is, “What is the impact of TWIC on the operations of a high-volume port and some of its terminal operators? How well do the readers perform in the port environment?”

With a history with the Port of LA that goes back to the Safe Commerce program, and high-profile port deployments like that at the Port of Halifax, Unisys has “deep maritime domain expertise, along with the technology expertise with biometrics and smart cards,” Langhoff said, to understand both the port’s security needs and its business needs.