DHS Launches Prototype Phase of New Biometric ID Card

Nov. 30, 2004
The Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun testing the technology and business processes involved in the Transportation Worker Identity Credential (TWIC) Program at the Port of Long Beach Container Terminal.

The TWIC is a tamper-resistant credential that contains biometric information about the holder that renders the card useless to anyone other than the rightful owner. Using this biometric data, each transportation facility can verify the identity of a worker and prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing secure areas. Eventually, the prototype will expand to 34 sites in six states and will last seven months.

"TWIC is a significant enhancement that will prevent terrorists and other unauthorized persons from gaining access to sensitive areas of the nation's transportation system," said Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson. "Developing the prototype for this new technology is another step in TSA's continuing effort to enhance security in all modes of transportation."

Currently, many transportation workers must carry a different identification card for each facility they access. A standard TWIC would improve the flow of commerce by eliminating the need for redundant credentials and streamlining the identity verification process.

Soon, workers at three other sites will begin receiving their TWICs. These sites include the Philadelphia Maritime Exchange in Pennsylvania, as well as the Port of Pensacola, and Port Canaveral in Florida. In the weeks following, up to 200,000 workers from maritime, rail, aviation and ground modes of transportation are expected to participate.

The TSA and the U.S. Coast Guard are beginning work on a joint rulemaking for the implementation of the TWIC for maritime workers. The information gained from the prototype phase should provide valuable input to the rulemaking process. TSA will be working with other agencies to develop complementary rules for the other transportation modes. Once the prototype is complete, TSA will analyze the results to determine how the program will be implemented.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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