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U.S. Moving Ahead With Transportation Identification Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is moving ahead with its plan to develop a uniform identification credential for all transportation workers requiring unescorted access to secure areas at seaports, airports,...


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is moving ahead with its plan to develop a uniform identification credential for all transportation workers requiring unescorted access to secure areas at seaports, airports, rail, pipeline, trucking and mass transit facilities.

The TSA in May announced it would soon embark on its card prototype phase, the third step in the agency’s development of the transportation worker identity card (TWIC) program. This step, also referred to as Phase III, will last approximately seven months and will be conducted in Philadelphia, Pa. and Wilmington, Del.; the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.; and the 14 major port facilities in the state of Florida, said officials. TSA anticipates that up to 200,000 workers could participate on a voluntary basis in the prototype phase.

After Phase III, TSA will perform a review and then prepare for the nationwide rollout of the TWIC card, otherwise known as Phase IV.

But whether Canadian drivers will eventually be required to apply for TWIC cards still remains a mystery, at least according to TSA media relations officer Darrin Kayser. (The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Canadian government are hoping the FAST driver card will be recognized as the TWIC equivalent for Canadian drivers.)

“TSA continues to coordinate with the FAST program to match requirements and leverage compatible program components. It is not yet clear how these two credentials will work together in the future,” said Kayser.

Be that as it may, the TWIC card is poised to become a key piece in the TSA’s efforts to secure all modes of transportation in the U.S., said TSA chief rear admiral David M. Stone. “This technology will not only improve security by keeping known terrorists away from vulnerable areas, but it also enhances the flow of commerce and protects individual privacy.”

The prototype program will likely begin this summer and will examine a range of identity management processes, including the use of smart card technology with biometrics to positively link an individual to his or her credential for unescorted access to “secure” areas of the transportation system.

The TSA hopes the TWIC program will strengthen security at key transportation facilities by using credentialing technologies to prevent terrorists from obtaining or forging cards and getting access to secure areas; and by using communications technologies tied to the program to interface with other federal, state and local agencies. The interface would allow TSA to send out targeted “threat alerts” to facilities and shift resources based on intelligence data or changes in the threat level.

TSA has promised it will safeguard workers’ personal data by collecting the minimum amount of required information and shielding those records in a single secure system.

TSA started the TWIC program in the spring of 2002. Phase I, the Planning Phase, of the project was completed in spring of 2003 and Phase II, the Technology Evaluation Phase, closed in October of that year. In Phase II, six card technologies were analyzed to test their efficiency, effectiveness and cost, and the Integrated Circuit Chip (ICC) Smart Card was selected as the most appropriate.

Other technologies, including a two-dimensional barcode and optical stripe, will also be included in the Prototype Phase to ensure compatibility with various legacy systems at transportation facilities.

Meanwhile, it looks like Canadian carriers who cross the border with dangerous goods will soon have to apply for a special permit to do so from the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA).

U.S. federal officials made the announcement at the National Tank Truck Carriers Convention in Las Vegas in May.

Companies will be required to obtain special permits to haul such items as high explosives, radioactive material, liquefied natural gas and high-inhalation materials, said Daniel Shelton, FMCSA cargo-tank program manager.


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