In a Webinar Feb. 14 sponsored by the Security Industry Association (SIA), Alexandria, Va., speakers outlined the progress of the transportation workers’ identification credential (TWIC) program in establishing a standardized credential for use at ports.

Maurine Fanguy, program director of the TWIC program for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), outlined in her presentation how the TWIC pilot program will work.

“We always knew we had a large and diverse population, but it is probably larger than we realized,” Fanguy said of the port workers.

Because of the requirements for biometric identification with the credential, injuries typical to port workers, such as hands that require casts, and the varieties of weather in which the devices must work provided challenges, she reported.

The variety of maritime environments also was daunting. “You couldn’t imagine the environmental settings,” she marveled. “It’s a pretty broad range.”

These include petrochemical plants along the Mississippi River near Baton Rouge, La.; barges on the Mississippi; truck traffic backed up 24/7 at huge ports like that of Long Beach; icy conditions in Alaska; and tropical and corrosive environments in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Rob Zivney, vice president of Hirsch Electronics and chair of SIA’s PIV working group, added what they learned about the effects of environmental conditions on readers.

“We learned that a lot of coke dust from the petrochemical industry can gunk up a magnetic stripe reader, and it needs cleaning,” Zivney related. “The damage truckers can do to equipment is tremendous.”

Given these circumstances, the TWIC pilot program was adjusted.

“When we put out rulemaking, we got strong feedback that the contact mode was just not going to work,” she reported, due to harsh environmental conditions, adding, “PINs were considered a non-starter.” The variety of access systems already in place at ports was also a consideration.

“Some of our stakeholders have sophisticated physical access control systems in place today, and some people have nothing,” she said of the ports. “When you are dealing with leading edge technologies, it can be challenging at times.”

In the pilot program, a privacy key will be stored on each credential that would be accessible from a magnetic stripe or contact interface. It also could be stored in the access system to eliminate the need for a magnetic swipe or contact read, she said.

Additionally, the maritime industry wanted contactless transfer of user ID and biometric data from TWIC to the reader and no requirement for maritime operators to manage encryption keys.

Current and planned participants in the pilot program for the credential and readers include port authorities in Brownsville, Texas, and Los Angeles, Long Beach, and New York and New Jersey; Watermark Cruises, Annapolis, Md.; and Magnolia Marine, Vicksburg, Miss.