Two U.S. Border Crossings Equipped To Process RFID-Enabled Travel Documents

Unisys recently announced that the first U.S. land border crossings using advanced information technology to capture, read and analyze traveler and vehicle information have opened in Blaine, Wash., and Nogales, Ariz.

These sites, equipped by Unisys to process secure Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) RFID-enabled travel documents which include U.S. passport cards and alternative documents (enhanced driver’s licenses, trusted traveler cards and border crossing cards) are designed to increase homeland security while minimizing delays to travelers crossing U.S. land borders.

Unisys will support the Customs and Border Protection agency as it rolls out its WHTI RFID solution at 37 additional high-volume land ports of entry by June 2009, helping to improve officer safety and ability to assess risk, while enhancing homeland security.

WHTI through its requirement that individuals carry a passport card or other acceptable documents will greatly reduce the opportunities for fraud or misrepresentation of one’s true identity.

Unisys-deployed and managed card readers and supporting technology quickly communicate RFID-stored traveler information to CBP, whose systems can confirm a WHTI document’s validity and assist in determining a traveler’s true identity. Beginning June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens and Canadians entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry will be required to have a passport, passport card or WHTI-compliant document such as an enhanced driver’s license.

In January, CBP awarded a contract to Unisys to design, install and manage the WHTI license plate reader and RFID infrastructure. The Unisys solution includes a series of RFID antennas and cameras, which capture WHTI-compliant RFID-enabled travel documents as well as vehicle license plate information.

The company also designed the technical architecture that integrates data from the various sensors and cameras with external databases -- delivering information to CBP officers via a centralized dashboard. Additionally, Unisys is providing help desk services and is managing and maintaining the solution and its various components to ensure system availability.

The Unisys solution provides CBP officers with a wealth of information on travelers before their vehicles reach the inspection booth in a vehicle primary lane. A monitor and dashboard in the inspection booth assists in performing law enforcement queries, which helps an officer assess risk quickly and make an informed decision as to whether additional assessment of a vehicle or individual is warranted.

“The WHTI RFID-enabled travel documents facilitate the entry process for legitimate travelers across CBP’s land ports of entry,” said CBP Assistant Commissioner Field Operations, Thomas Winkowski. “RFID technology also offers CBP another enforcement layer to our mission in keeping our borders safe.”

“We are proud to join CBP in announcing the achievement of this significant milestone on the WHTI project, and to have delivered this high-quality solution on time and on budget,” said Tom Conaway, managing partner, Homeland Security, Unisys Federal Systems. “These deployments mark an important step forward in our partnership with CBP, and we look forward to rolling out the solutions at land crossings around the nation.”

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