The timing of a planned rollout of a field test of a federally-mandated identification and access control system that must be designed, developed and managed at several terminals at the Port of Los Angeles is dependent on several “macro influences,” according to Ted Langhoff, director of Unisys Corp.‘s [UIS] Cargo and Port Security Practice.

Unisys, which won the three-year, $1 million contract from the L.A. Port in February to create and manage the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) field test, will wrap up its initial analysis and design work in early May, Langhoff tells TR2. This first phase of the contract includes “identifying the existing practices for the three participating terminals and identifying high level designs for solutions that can really address their needs with respect to their operational requirements as well as their TWIC and security requirements.”

The second phase of the pilot project requires a more detailed analysis, which would be followed by the procurement of the various solutions. The third phase will be the actual field-testing and the final phase will be the evaluation and reporting, Langhoff says.

However, the pace of the pilot program beyond the initial analysis and design phase hinders on key factors such as the number of TWIC credentials in the hands of port workers and the approval of smart card reader technology by the Coast Guard for inclusion in a Qualified Products List, Langhoff says.

Langhoff couldn’t say when the pilot test would advance beyond phase one. “We’re going to go forward when the time is right,” he says.

However, it’s obvious that the number of workers that have TWIC cards is important to conduct a meaningful field test, Langhoff says.

“If you look at the field test execution and you want to test and evaluate the performance of TWIC in the port environment, and the requirement is that transportation workers that are allowed into secure areas of the port need to have TWIC cards, it really doesn’t make sense to start a field test when only 2 percent or 20 percent of the population has TWIC cards,” he says.

Langhoff wouldn’t say what the saturation threshold is but says even if 40 percent of the eligible workers at the L.A. Port have their credentials, it may not be the right level.

“That would mean 60 percent of the people are not supposed to get into the port to do their job,” he says.

As of last week, of the approximately 1.5 million port workers nationwide that are expected to be enrolled in TWIC by year end, 72,056 workers had received their biometric- enabled smart cards. So far 244,470 workers had enrolled in TWIC and 318,739 had pre-enrolled. The Transportation Security Administration began accepting enrollments at the Port of Wilmington, Del., last October.

At the Port of L.A., which began accepting TWIC enrollments last December, nearly 1,900 TWIC cards had been activated by late last week and just over 6,100 workers had enrolled. The three terminals where the pilot will occur haven’t been disclosed, so it is unclear what the threshold will be as a factor in moving forward with the rollout and field-testing but Langhoff indicates that the number of activated TWIC cards at L.A. remains light.

Still, the three year contract window provides flexibility to accomplish the pilot project, he says.

In addition to the TWIC card activations and the establishment of an approved smart card reader list, Langhoff says another driver on both the technology that will be used as well as the process for implementing the readers is the biometric authentication requirement. That percentage, whether it’s 100 percent or something less, will drive the number of readers and where they are placed, “which ultimately could have an impact on the processing of trucks and pedestrians through the different gates.”

So policy decisions also affect the use of technology and the processes, Langhoff says.

Unisys’ “perspective” on TWIC is to view it foremost as a “security and operational engagement” that leverages technology, Langhoff says.

In the first couple months of the contract the company has worked to “understand the operations, the volumes associated with vehicles, vendors and people entering and exiting the different terminals in order to better understand what the security impact of TWIC will be on port operations, Langhoff says. “Once we’ve understood those critical things, then we’ll identify from a high level perspective how we can design solutions that have the minimal impact to those operations.”