Mantraps and mobile enhancements improve validation
Airports like the recently deployed Restricted Area Identification Card system. Carroll McCormick presents the second of a two-part examination of RAIC.
In the first of our two-part series on the Restricted Area Identification Card (May/ June 2007, page 36), we reported on the deployment of the RAIC dual biometric identification card system to Canada's 29 largest airports, with a January 31 implementation deadline. It replaced the Restricted Access Pass as a way of identifying roughly 100,000 non-passenger personnel and positively matching them to their identification cards before granting them entry to restricted areas in the airport terminals and apron.
The combination of real time validation of every cardholder's photo ID and iris or fingerprint at the doors to restricted areas, processed almost instantly through the airport's access control system, improves security yet speeds the processing and passage of authorized personnel. Each airport configures its access control system to grant access only to those employees who have what it deems legitimate business in a particular restricted area or areas at specified hours of specified days.
Since RAIC is a national card - Transport Canada conducts the background security checks and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) updates the approved cardholder list - any cardholder could, in theory, be approved to enter restricted areas in any of the 29 airports. But access control is handled locally and all of the airports we contacted require that non-local personnel enter restricted areas via passenger screening checkpoints or designated bypass points.
This cautiousness is rather irritating to commercial pilots, who visit many airports. "The full intent of this card at one time was if I got a card issued here at the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, I should have full access to the secure side at Vancouver. [RAIC] is not up to its full potential yet, because they are issued for the airport you are based in. You are treated differently at different airports.
There are some bypass lines you are allowed to go to at your base airport that you can't go through at other airports," explains Brian Boucher, senior director of flight safety with the Air Canada Pilots Association. There are pilot bypass points at the larger airports like Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, but at other airports pilots must use the passenger security checkpoints. "Eventually we would like to go to any secure door that lets us in," Boucher says. This cautious approach is, he notes, "more of a local issue than a CATSA issue."
Pilots like the quick turnaround that RAIC offers; i.e., shorter lineups because of the speeded-up card verification. "Pilots are going in and out of security all the time to get flight plans and even to get something to eat. To be able to move around freely and securely [is great]," Boucher says. However, pilots want the as-advertised access to more doors to restricted areas, citing the not always minor inconvenience of having to go to crew entry points.
A recent bug has surfaced with pilot bypass points at Toronto and Calgary. Boucher said that as of May some pilot cards were not being recognized at some access points, something CATSA has been working to rectify.
A mobile enhancement to RAIC has made it possible for pilots to use their RAIC cards at the passenger security checkpoints, and has improved airport security overall. CATSA issued airports portable biometrics/card readers earlier this year - 350 of them so far, according to Quebec-based Labcal Technologies Inc., manufacturer of the Labcal Be.U Mobile handheld readers. Ontario-based Bioscrypt Inc. supplied the fingerprint verification algorithm for the readers and Ahearn & Soper Inc., headquartered in Ontario, won the contract for the continuity of deployment of the readers.
Pilots have their RAIC cards read with the readers, but they are also being used elsewhere. The Charlottetown airport, for example, received its portable units in February and not only uses them to verify RAIC cards and cardholders before they enter restricted areas, but also for spot checks inside the restricted areas.
"They allow security people to immediately validate someone in a restricted area," says Eugene McDonald, the airport's director of planning and programs. In a smaller airport it is more of a challenge, because everyone is known, to motivate people to keep validating the passes each time they enter a restricted area.
"The portable units let us go in and check if you have validated your pass. Every time you validate your pass, a record is taken [which door, when, who]. If you are caught in a restricted area without having validated your card, I'll be asking you why you didn't do it. The first time you'll get a warning, the second time there will be a different result."
After 9/11, amended security regulations required airports to have full-time security personnel at entries to restricted areas. In order to mitigate this added expense, some airports reduced the number of access points. One airport, for example, was reported to have reduced its access points from several dozen to around 12. Doors must be attended in order to prevent tailgating, or piggybacking, which happens when an unverified second person slips through an access door behind someone who has obtained access with an ID card.
Three airports - Kelowna, Winnipeg and London - have installed an access control system called a "mantrap," so named by Washington-based Newton Security Inc., the manufacturer of the operative mantrap technology called T-DAR; Canadian airports variously refer to it as a mantrap, persontrap or, in Winnipeg, anti-tailgating access portal. Vancouver expects to install mantraps this year, Victoria has put its mantraps plans on hold and as many as two dozen airports and security integrators have contacted Newton Security to discuss them.
A mantrap consists of a space between an entrance and exit door, which is monitored from above by T-DAR, which can tell if there is more than one person inside. A user enters the mantrap and the first door closes behind him. Then he has his RAIC card and iris or fingerprint read. Once his ID is verified and T-DAR determines that there is just one person in the mantrap, the exit door unlocks to provide access to the restricted area; the two doors cannot be opened simultaneously.
Kelowna was the first to install mantraps (it now calls them persontraps) in a Canadian airport and currently has four: three in the WestJet, Air Canada and Horizon lease areas and one in a common use area. "We got an exemption from Transport Canada to use the persontraps and remove the security guards at those portals," says Neil Drachenberg, Kelowna's airport fire and security chief.
London currently has one mantrap, which is operational 24/7 and fully automated. "Employees love them. If you have an operational requirement to get to an aircraft, you can predict how long it will take to get through the man trap. It is a 20/30- second process to go through," says Steve Baker, president and CEO of the airport.
CATSA has begun the second phase of RAIC, which extends its application beyond the terminal and apron. It is scheduled to be completed by March 2008. Planning teams are in place and information is being assembled at each airport on how to apply RAIC II.
Kelowna is already doing what other airports may adopt as part of RAIC II: It has configured the vehicle access to the airside so all vehicles have to pass through one RAIC-controlled gate. "We have expanded the system to do things that were not under the original concept of RAIC," says Drachenberg. "For example, we use RAIC to control who opens the door for our oversized baggage drop. We use RAIC and access control system to determine who can go from the restricted to the sterile area."