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Transit worker IDs to be tested

(The following article by Bryon Okada was posted on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram website on May 14.)

WASHINGTON -- The federal government is seeking management companies to test the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, a smart card that all transportation workers -- airport, seaport, rail, pipeline, trucking, mass transit -- must carry.

The cards will use biometric information, such as fingerprints, and will allow the federal government to send out targeted threat alerts to individual facilities.

Once the program is in place, a transportation worker cannot have unescorted access to secure areas without a card.

"This technology will not only improve security by keeping known terrorists away from vulnerable areas, but it also enhances the flow of commerce and protects individual privacy," David Stone, acting head of the Transportation Security Administration, said in a statement Wednesday.

The TSA will look only at companies that are approved vendors of smart-card technologies. They will be selected through the General Services Administration's Smart Access Common ID Card contract.

The prototype phase will be conducted with as many as 200,000 workers in Philadelphia; Wilmington, Del.; the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.; and the 14 major port facilities in Florida. Eventually, about 12 million workers are expected to be required to carry the card.

The TSA will roll out the cards nationwide after a seven-month test and a review.

Friday, May 14, 2004

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