Homeland Security plans RFID tests at border crossings
Jan 1, 2005 12:00 PM, [Compiled by Gary Macklin • firstname.lastname@example.org]
Using the US VISIT program, the US Department of Homeland Security plans to test RFID tags as a method to improve border management along the Mexican and Canadian borders. The plan was announced on January 25, 2004, by Asa Hutchinson, under secretary for border and transportation security.
RF tags already have an established presence in the national logistics system with uses such as inventory control for faster, more accurate shipping and receiving as well as product security such as shoplifting prevention at the retail level. For instance, Wal-Mart has instructed its largest vendors to adopt RFID technology as a means for improving inventory control. A passive RF tag, such as envisioned by Homeland Security, is active only when it receives a signal from a tag reader.
Hutchinson says that use of radio frequency technology has the potential to improve national security as well as make some of the most important infrastructure enhancements at border crossings in more than 50 years. “We are driven by a vision of the way our borders can and should operate in the future, and that future is getting closer and closer with every layer of US VISIT we deploy,” he says. “Working with our border partners, we intend to see that it's done in the right way and at the right pace.”
The program plans to match visitor or vehicle entries to exits without adding to processing time at border crossings with invasive methods. Homeland Security says its program will safeguard sensitive information and that the tags used will not include biographic or biometric information about visitors. The plan will use Read Only tags that cannot be changed. The test program will only monitor border crossings; the tags to be used cannot be tracked from a remote location and can only be read with equipment specific to the program after the tag is activated at point of issue.
Testing will begin in Spring 2005 using a simulated port-of-entry facility for the first phase. Following the simulation, actual testing will begin at Nogales in Arizona along the Mexican border and at Alexandria Bay in New York and Pacific Highway and Peace Arch in Washington on the Canadian border. Testing at the ports of entry will run through Spring 2006.
The testing plan calls for unique RF tags to be issued to pedestrians and occupants of vehicles crossing the border. The program envisions automatic recording of visitor arrival and departure at border points. The multiple test points are planned to subject the technology to various levels of traffic congestion and weather conditions.
US-VISIT is a package of security measures that begins outside the US and continues through border entry and exit. Homeland Security says the process is fast, easy, and simple. Program goals are security of US citizens and visitors to the country, facilitation of legitimate travel and trade, ensuring the integrity of the immigration system, and the privacy of visitors. Some aspects of the program are already operational at 115 airports, 15 seaports, and at the 50 busiest land border crossings. The program has processed more than 17.5 million foreign visitors and has resulted in the arrest or denial of admission to 407 individuals, Hutchinson says.
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