The pick for TWIC

Patrick Hemphill helped oversee the Port of Wilmington's Transportation Worker Identification Credential implementation


The Port of Wilmington, which opened in 1923, is the busiest port on the Delaware River and the leading North American importation site for fresh fruit, bananas and juice concentrate. It was also the first seaport to use the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card, beginning with the TWIC Technology Phase pilot program in October 2003. TWIC is designed to add a layer of security at ports by ensuring that workers in secure areas have received a background check and do not pose a national security threat.

As the TWIC program expanded as part of the Maritime Security (MARSEC) criteria, so did the need for a software program that could read and record information from both the existing TWIC Protype cards used with the port's physical access control system and the latest TWIC cards. In addition, it was important to find a solution that would enable the port to access the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) "hot list" - a real-time database of unauthorized TWIC users - so port security personnel can quickly identify those with revoked rights.

Recognizing this need, Port of Wilmington officials began exploring their options for software that could work with their existing Honeywell Pro-Watch security management platform and work on mobile card readers to deploy the enrollment process throughout the facility.

Port officials chose PIVCheck Plus software from Codebench, which drives three Datastrip mobile readers and resides on a desktop enrollment workstation in the port's main office. An additional license for certificate management enables the port to re-validate TWICs each day, once they are enrolled with the Honeywell system.

The Challenge

Before the Port of Wilmington became a pilot site for the TWIC smart card program, it relied on 125kHz proximity cards and readers for worker identification. With the advent of the latest TWIC compliance standards, port officials needed a way to register TWIC cards with their existing Honeywell Pro-Watch physical access control system and enter cardholder data into their database that would merge both TWIC and existing ID cards. With this integration, the port would need only one card for the access control system.

It was also important to be able to enroll TWIC cardholders at the various access points to the port, which spans 307 acres of land. Therefore, the software needed to be usable with rugged mobile card readers, such as Datastrip's DSV2+Turbo.

Finally, Port Security wanted the ability to access the TSA "hot list" and match it against those being enrolled in the Port's database, as well as those using their TWIC cards. This would enable Security to take the appropriate steps when necessary, such as suspending a card, identifying people who were already enrolled in the Port's database and not double-enrolling them, or spotting a potential terrorist.

The Solution

By using Codebench's PIVCheck Plus software, which was deployed on three mobile Datastrip readers as well as a desktop computer system, port officials are able to register TWIC holders throughout the port and transmit that information to the Pro-Watch system. These cards can then be read at the 32 fixed card readers located at various entrances and access points throughout the port.

TWIC credentials are required for entry to the port by anyone requiring frequent, unescorted access to the facility, a facility which is entirely designated as a secure and restricted area. These include longshoremen, truck drivers, surveyors, agents, chandlers, port chaplains and laborers who access secure areas. Tenants who have their offices at the port, such as produce giants Chiquita and Dole, are also required to be enrolled in TWIC.

Patrick Hemphill, recently retired Manager of Port Security and Facility Security Officer at the Port of Wilmington, says the mobile readers have been taken to local union halls to enroll longshoremen before they arrive at the port: "This saved us a lot of time," Hemphill says. "We met with union leaders and set aside two, two-hour periods on pay days. The members were made aware of the need to know their PIN and we were able to enroll the majority of (union) members during those two days without interrupting their work schedule."

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