Industry executives moving ahead with new ID technologies?
After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks airport security was of the utmost concern. There was a lot of discussion around personnel vetting and using biometrics and other high-tech security to enable access to secure areas.
The Transportation Worker Identification Credential was originally envisioned for workers at all transportation hubs–seaports, railways and airports. But lobbying from airport executives killed the TWIC for that industry application. The common refrain about standardizing access control and credentialing at airports was, “if you’ve seen one airport, you’ve seen one airport.”
And while many airport operators still take issue with an interoperable credential, there are efforts underway to deploy biometric and smart card systems, said Colleen Chamberlain, staff vice president for transportation security policy at the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).
The AAAE’s Biometric Airport Security Identification Credential (BASIC) program is working to educate and bring new identification technologies to airports.
The RTCA, a standards group for the airline and airport industry, is also working on new standards for airport access control systems. Insiders say that biometrics will be a part of the new standard, due for release in the first half of 2011.
The RTCA standards will not be mandated for airports, something the AAAE wants to avoid, Chamberlain said. “We didn’t want a TSA mandated program,” she added. “We just want to build off standards in place and have an open vendor architecture.”
Because airports are having struggling in the current economy, the AAAE didn’t want a mandate instead preferring to work with the TSA on a standards-based biometric system that could be phased in over time, Chamberlain said. “We have a commitment from the TSA for a voluntary approach,” she said.
BASIC is already being used at some airports exploring how biometrics could be used to automate processes, Chamberlain said. The next phase is to test a reference biometric that could be used for ID vetting and access. Phase three will be linking to the Federal PKI Bridge. “The ultimate goal is for PIV-I,” she adds.
The TSA wants to move forward collaborating with the private sector on biometrics at airports, says a government insider who asked not to be named. There’s interest in using a new credential for expedited crew access so that they could avoid the ever-increasing number of full body scanners at airports.
Crew members would provide the airline ID, a biometric sample and that information would be checked against a crew manifest to make sure that individual is working that day, the insider says. Testing of this type of system is underway in a number of different locations across the country.