SSA Marine and its Integrator, TRL Systems Raise the Bar on Port Security with 3M Cogent’s MiY Outdoor Biometric Access Control Reader

Cogent-Long-BeachMiY-ID_156X230SSA Marine, the company that manages the Port of Long Beach in Southern California, was having difficulty finding a security card reader to meet security requirements of TSA’s Transportation Worker Identification Card standard.

The Port of Long Beach is the second-busiest seaport in the United States and a leading gateway for trade with Asia. It employs 30,000 people and is serviced by 11,000 drayage trucks. This amount of traffic presents major security challenges.

“Several pilots had been attempted over three years at the Port of Long Beach, but SSA Marine couldn’t find a reader that met the security challenges presented by a busy port and that was rugged enough to resist temperature shifts, rain, dust, and other environmental challenges,” said Christopher Crump, director of Commercial Business, 3M Cogent, Traffic Safety and Security Division.

Security challenges at U.S. ports

In an effort to raise port security standards and limit access to U.S. entrance points, the U.S. Congress passed several security-related acts, including the Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (the SAFE Port Act). This act led to the creation of several related programs, including the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program.

The TWIC program provides a tamper-resistant, biometric credential card to maritime workers who need to have access to secure areas of port facilities. However, the initial law did not require the installation of electronic TWIC readers for the cards. For this reason, many ports have used the card as a “flash-pass” and based their access decisions only on visual inspections.

Studies scrutinize port security

From 2008 to 2011, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) conducted a study on the use of TWIC cards with biometric readers. This study, which included the Port of Long Beach, showed that confidence in identity verifications increases as more authentication factors are added, and that card readers needed to be part of a wider effort.

After this initial study, SSA Marine initiated a pilot program of its own at the Port of Long Beach.

SSA Marine and its integrator, TRL Systems were looking for an integrated security system that could provide fast entrance with a high-level of security. It had to be secure, easy to install, customizable and flexible enough to adapt to changing needs and new technologies.

Security meets flexibility

For its pilot program, TRL Systems selected 3M™ Cogent’s MiY Outdoor Biometric Access Control Reader. 

With the 3M Cogent MiY reader, a complete access control solution is integrated in a “BeastBox” – the rugged housing of the MiY access control readers. The system incorporates an external contact card and is connected to a surveillance camera.

BeastBoxes were installed in two different areas of the Port of Long Beach: the truckers’ lane and the employees’ entrance at one of the piers.

The MiY reader allows for fast authentication, which is critical for the operation of a very busy seaport. Another benefit of the MiY reader is its flexibility. A custom feature was developed which allows switching the readers between different TWIC Maritime Security Levels, based on the port’s operational needs. This can be done in one simple step.

“Port security is a new market area for 3M Cogent, and one that is receiving more attention,” said Crump. “The MiY reader is an important product because it is flexible and customizable and can meet our port clients’ stringent requirements, with minimum support from 3M Cogent.”