Nov 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Stephanie Silk
The Port of Halifax — “Canada's Atlantic Gateway to the World” — is home to terminals, oil refineries, ship stations, cargo and supply chain activities, Navy Coast Guard, department of fisheries and oceans, autoports and more. The 18-mile landscape takes security beyond the front doors.
The cargo and employees traveling on trucks, rails and ships complicate the Port of Halifax's security challenges, says Gord Helm, manager of port security and marine operations for the Halifax Port Authority. “In a marine facility, to cut people off from certain areas across the entire place is almost impossible,” he says. “Once a truck leaves a facility, it's now traveling on public roads. Rail lines travel an extended period of time outside of controlled environments. And at the dock, we are accepting vessels from anywhere around world to come to our pier. They have international crews, and are bringing cargo that originated from 14 different places. Each environment is completely different, so it's hard to apply the same rules to all transportation markets.”
Previously, the port had no fence to block out the public, a few doors had proximity card readers while others were controlled by security guards and staff had to be escorted to certain restricted areas. But two years ago, Transport Canada, which administers and funds policies, regulations and services for all transportation in Canada, enacted the Marine Transportation Security Act. In compliance with new regulations, the Port was asked to deploy an access control database system (CACDS) with a biometric credentialing tool, so it not only verifies credentials, it authenticates ownership of credentials. “We needed to authenticate that the person holding that card is supposed to be holding that card and that they are supposed to be where they are.”
So when Helm threw himself into the biometric market to find the correct concept that they could integrate into the port security regime they already had facilitated, he found that he had options. Helm looked at a number of biometric technologies, including fingerprint and iris scanning, hand geometry and vascular pattern recognition.
Identica Canada Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S.-based Identica Holdings Corp., was one of the vascular pattern recognition finalists challenged to meet the Port's needs. Founded in 2003 by Terry Wheeler, COO and president, Identica develops biometric identification and security solutions, showcased in its benchmark product, the Vascular Pattern Scanner (VP-II). The technology provides a scanner that supplies a hygienic and non-intrusive means to verify and recognize human users. It employs a near infrared camera and proprietary algorithms to capture images of veins, arteries and capillaries found on the back of the human hand, leaving more room for privacy than other biometrics. “Because we go 4-mm. below the skin, you can't leave your pattern behind. Users don't feel it is intrusive,” Wheeler says.
It can be used for access control, time and attendance and most important to the port, credential verification. Verification is done solely by scan of the hand, but to avoid storing a template onto a system, Identica has integrated HID iCLASS smart cards as a second verification. The 16-bit cards store a template of the user's vein pattern and communicate with Identica's Universal Controller (UC-2). An enrolled user places a card in as well as his or her hand, and the system will store the template onto the card immediately. “The system matches the live hand to the stored template,” Wheeler says.
The Port Authority ultimately made its choice for what would be a $20 million technology infrastructure upgrade. “We chose Identica's vein pattern recognition because it met our operational and environmental needs,” Helm says. Working with Identica to integrate the product was Unisys Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Unisys.
Unisys won the contract and would provide the database creation and technology integration for the Port of Halifax's upgrade project. “[The port] had a tough challenge of managing requirements of a business that isn't their own. We helped them find the right solution,” says Todd Williams, account executive for Unisys Canada.
Before signing on the dotted line, Helm had asked Identica and Unisys to come up with an enclosure system, since the scanner would be placed in outdoor environments and face the elements. “We looked at Identica's technology and asked, ‘is [an enclosure] something we are going to build into the proposed solution?” Williams says. Now, the VP-II comes with a weather shield, which encloses the device, and can be configured to open automatically using various methods, including motion sensor. It operates in -50 F to 122 F.
Last fall, the port installed a trial and found that it worked to their satisfaction, spurring the beginning of the installation process.
The plan of implementation would start by installing gates and access control where it didn't previously exist, which in itself may have been the hardest phase. “Installation isn't really the challenge, because the product can just be posted on a wall,” Helm says. “The effort is putting power and fiber optic connections to all positions, and installing turnstiles and gates. All of that takes about 10 months.”
The port is already eight months in and by the end of the process, 30-50 scanners will be in place and fully enrolled with 4,000 users. Some port staff are already using the device, which they learned how to use from consultation sessions and online training.
Unisys has partnered with other suppliers to provide the best database possible. ImmediaC, a Halifax-based developer of Web-enabled databases, has ensured that the new system is fully integrated with the port's existing credentialing reservation system. “We have integrated with them as part of solution so data can flow into system. It saves work and time,” Williams says. SimplexGrinnell provided security installation and deployment expertise and supplied Lenel System's OnGuard software, forming the backbone of the credentialing system. And xwave, a Canada-based IT company, conducts software engineering and testing.
Helm says the biggest benefit is having a fully integrated system that falls in line with all necessary regulations. “International seafarers now come to the port and scan in and out so we know that the crew to come is the crew to leave. It has enabled great reliability for not only internal employees, but external ones as well,” Helm says. “It has provided us with significant flexibility to evolve as a community and as a security regime.”
“There is a big need for this kind of security in transportation,” Wheeler says, “especially in a facility with thousands of users, where people come in and out on shifts all day.” But while one could argue that many forms of access control fit in the transportation security industry, Helm says that the right fit for a facility is a system that works, but doesn't slow down the purpose of the facility in the process. “We are mindful to make sure the system works well, but that we still do our job. This challenges the industry to develop mechanisms to improve productivity at the same time,” he says. “We could make it impossible for someone to get in, but we would be significantly impacting how the supply chain works.”
Williams agrees that Identica's product was the right choice for the Port, not only because it fits the environmental conditions, but because of the innovative idea behind it. “They have finally married physical and technical security on one smart card that serves both purposes,” Williams says.
The next step
Unisys will keep tabs on the system after their role is done. “We track activity across Canada,” Williams says. “Assuming it's a success, we should attract interest across all Canadian ports for this solution.” Unisys Canada President Bob Binns adds, “Hopefully, this won't be our last relationship with the port.”
By early next year the new system will be fully live, including the scanners, gates and turnstiles, the database and all enrolled participants. “It was and continues to be a complicated — but exciting — project,” Helm says.
Australian Transport System Deploys DVTel's Central Management
The Brisbane, Australia, Metropolitan Transport Management Center (BMTMC) serves a road network of 6,500 km (4,000 miles), equipped with 1,450 sets of traffic lights, 340 help phones, 75 variable message signs and 180 CCTV cameras. The center has deployed the Latitude Network Video Management System (NVMS) from DVTel, Ridgefield Park, N.J., developer of intelligent security solutions over IP networks. The product will integrate and manage the surveillance needs of three different departments, comprising more than 400 cameras. Historically, the separate departments of the Brisbane City Council (BCC) — including agencies that handle elements of Brisbane's transport system, such as roadways and public buses — maintained their own surveillance systems.
The DVTel system delivers the BMTMC multiple live video feeds and effectively displays them to support multiple teams of operators in a single control room. Because traffic and emergency issues are only relevant in real-time, the Brisbane Traffic Center can use the DVTel live image streams of adjacent agencies to establish causes that might not be clear from their own cameras. For reasons of cost and operational efficiency, the BMTMC decided to use a single digital “super control room” that incorporates all cameras and allows all image streams to be viewed by all agencies.
According to Michael Corne, BMTMC director, benefits of the new control room include a single point of contact for real-time transport operations and a single consistent source of traffic information.
The majority of cameras in the network are legacy analog technology. The analog cameras are encoded in the field to produce MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 IP video streams for viewing and recording. Transportation of these IP video signals is a mix of direct-connect to the optical fiber network or DSL links to the archiver — with all images multicast to the BMTMC. All operators employ DVTel client workstations connected to the LAN. At the same time the various traffic controllers access video streams from the fiber LAN and display these images onto a video wall.
The DVTel system was supplied and engineered by Pacific Communications, Port Melbourne, Victoria, in partnership with Siemens Building Technology. Scott Perkins from Pacific Communications adds, “Thanks to the flexibility of the DVTel management solution, each agency can have its own staff in a state-of-the-art joint control room where they're able to share real-time intelligence, react more quickly and better manage emergency responses.”
Mexico City Airport Secures Critical Areas With Bioscrypt
Twenty-four million passengers flow in and out of the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) every year, and their safety depends on the airport's security measures — especially those taken to protect restricted areas. When building a new state-of-the-art terminal with a Tier 4 data center, AICM wanted a cutting-edge access control system to protect passengers.
The new data center must have 99.995 percent uptime capabilities and fully redundant power and cooling systems. Entry to these areas must also be carefully guarded and monitored: they must be protected by biometric readers and anti-tailgating devices so that only one person can enter at a time.
The airport also needed to secure its power facilities, access points leading to the platforms, the communications rooms, which house the network switches as well as all other high-security areas of Terminal 2.
In order to meet these strict standards for its infrastructure and to ensure passenger safety, the AICM decided to implement Bioscrypt's V-Station fingerprint readers. The multi-factor authentication system is being leveraged to provide two-factor verification using smart cards and fingerprints to verify the identity of employees as they enter the airport's data center, communications room and other vulnerable areas.
The deployment in Terminal 2 is an extension of an earlier project to secure Terminal 1 with Bioscrypt readers. The readers were placed at the entrances and exits of the security checkpoints and tied into the airport's time-and-attendance system, which ensures that the airport's payroll records are accurate.
“The airport requires cutting-edge identity management solutions, as we cannot tolerate any security breaches. We insisted on using only the highest-quality and industry-proven equipment in the access control solution as well as all other systems within the terminal. The biometric readers are an integral part of the solution and are certainly no exception to the high standards set for Terminal 2,” says Gonzalo Martínez Ulloa, the CIO for Mexico's Airport Administration Agency (ASA), which is responsible for designing and implementing the technology infrastructure at the airport. “The readers are deployed at the most sensitive and security-enhanced areas of the airport, and they provide us with peace of mind, knowing that access to restricted areas will not be easily compromised.”
Employees now authenticate themselves at V-Smart readers placed at entrances to highly-critical areas. Their fingerprint is checked against a template placed on HID iCLASS smart cards. The V-Smart readers at Terminal 2 are part of a tightly integrated IP-based security system that uses Lenel's IP-based access control platform and video software along with Axis Communications' IP cameras and HID's smart cards.
There is no longer any doubt about who is entering the Mexico City International Airport's high-security areas. “Biometrics are the strongest form of authentication available to us, and using an identification factor that can't be stolen, forged or lost takes security to a new level. The heightened measures will present would-be intruders with a significant barrier,” Ulloa says.
If unauthorized personnel gained entry, the airport could compromise its ability to ensure that its infrastructure experience no more than 0.4 hours of downtime per year. By installing a biometric access control solution, the airport can prevent unauthorized personnel from gaining access to the data center.
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