Live from IFSEC: The challenges of TWIC

Hirsch's Suneborn and Zivney weigh in on the U.S. port security card program

Finally, cost has to factor in, especially since TWIC hasn't been expressly funded. The implementation of one worker's card for five years (not the physical access control systems, just the card and enrollment) is expected to cost between $230 to $240 per worker, a price that would seem exorbitant in the private sector. Admittedly, much of that high price is driven by the background checks for the workers as part of the enrollment. The TSA fee to workers is $132.50 for the card and the enrollment.

What's more, says Suneborn, the entire TWIC program features challenges of migration, since physical access control systems and supporting IDs have already been paid for and installed, and are a core element to port access control. Suneborn that creating a workable migration strategy also adds to the cost of such a project.

Because of the fundamental changes in technology, Zivney say that it is entirely possible that all of the current PAC systems in place for port access control may have to be replaced. Suneborn noted also that current standards indicate the government wouldn't want access alarms (door held alarms, for example) coming into the same system as used for identification. "They don't really want the access control to tie into the alarm monitoring," explains Suneborn.

Nonetheless, both Suneborn and Zivney agree that the TWIC process is rolling forward, and that despite such challenges on technology, cost, usability and migration, the project can be a real force for change in the physical access control systems market. With reader test projects occurring at locations like the Port of Long Beach, Calif., and enrollment programs ongoing since October 2007, TWIC is certainly on its feet, even despite the enrollment deadline moving from fall 2008 to April 2009. But in the meantime, the road ahead for TWIC may be as rough as the high seas that vessels travel upon before they reach U.S. ports.

More information:
TSA's TWIC information page