Wednesday, April 15, 2009

TWIC Casts a Security Net Over Ports

Today is not only the deadline for your taxes, it’s the national compliance day for TWIC! Through a maze of streamers, cake, and party hats, I found my way to Greg, (The TWIC-Meister) and asked him to write a little about TWIC for us. What is TWIC? Read on… ~ Blogger Bob

To most folks, TSA is synonymous with airport security, planes and really spiffy blue uniforms. But for the past few years we have been working hard to add a layer of port security that the maritime industry has never seen before. That’s right; spread the word, TSA is involved in securing other modes of transportation too. They don’t call us the Transportation Security Administration for nothing.

Today, the U.S. Coast Guard began ensuring port workers and mariners nationwide have a new security biometric card known as a TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential). Having a TWIC in hand means the holder received a thorough background check, and is now allowed unescorted access to secure areas of ports and vessels. Beginning today, the card must be presented at the more than 3,200 U.S. maritime facilities and 10,000 vessels from Maine to Guam to gain access. It is a huge win for security to know the folks working at our nation’s ports are not known terrorist threats.

The card itself is huge security benefit. Now instead of security guards examining more than 500 different driver’s licenses and hundreds of other port IDs, there is one uniform card accepted to gain access. TWIC uses advanced technology to embed a template of the owner’s fingerprints as well as a host of other security features that make it nearly impossible to fake.

TWICs are designed to be read by a card reader. TWIC card readers have gone through initial lab testing and approved equipment will be tested further in severe port environments (extreme heat, cold, wind, salt water, etc). At this time, some ports have already installed new readers and more will be soon. Readers are not mandatory yet because TSA listened and responded to industry concerns about cost and the need to test readers at port facilities and on vessels to ensure durability and functionality. We have worked closely with industry every step of the way to maximize security and minimize the effect on commerce.

To date, approximately 1.1 million workers have been vetted and participated in making the Homeland more secure.

Greg, EoS Guest Blogger