FAST System Boosts Homeland Security and Trade Flow Along Borders with Canada and Mexico

Friday 5 December 2003 16:08 CET | News

ITS Services, overseeing the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enhanced border protection system, has selected TransCores eGo wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) technology as the standard for its ongoing Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program.Through a $4 million contract with CBP and the prime contractor, ITS Services, TransCore will deliver more than 170,000 eGo windshield sticker tags, driver identification cards, as well as install inspection booth reader equipment for more than 99 FAST lanes at 22 border crossings. FAST is an intelligent border crossing system that enhances trade flow and security along the borders with Canada and Mexico. FAST allows CBP agents to instantly identify designated low-risk vehicles and drivers who are compliant with the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). These vehicles, equipped with eGo tags, are expedited through border crossings, reducing congestion and helping agents target a smaller pool of potentially high-risk vehicles for closer inspection. CBP was formed in March 2003 to join the resources of the U.S. Customs Service, the INS and Border Patrol in support of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security initiatives. With a priority mission of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the country, CBP is also charged with facilitating legitimate trade and travel. The FAST program is a key element in CBPs overall strategy to modernize operations, expand advance information regarding people and goods entering the country and improve inspection systems. As a joint program with Canada and Mexico, FAST also bolsters CBPs strategy to extend the countrys zone of security outward by partnering with foreign governments and the private sector to bring friendly traders into the security fold. Launched initially with Canada in 2002, Phase I of the FAST program used eGo technology for a successful pilot at six of the busiest U.S border crossings with Canada: Ambassador Bridge in Detroit; Bluewater Bridge in Port Huron, Mich.; Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y.; Lewiston, N.Y.; Champlain, N.Y.; and Blaine, Wash. These crossings account for nearly 70 percent of traffic and 80 percent of the trade value flowing between the two countries. FAST was launched with Mexico in September 2003 to extend the system to both borders. New FAST locations to be operational in 2004 include: Sweetgrass, Mont.; Portal and Pembina, N.D.; Alexandria Bay, N.Y.; Highgate Springs and Derby Lane, Vt.; Otay Mesa and Calexico, Calif.; Nogales, Ariz.; and El Paso, Laredo, Hidalgo and Brownsville, Texas. How the FAST System Works To use the FAST system, a truck must be a FAST-approved carrier, hauling goods from a FAST-approved importer, and be operated by a FAST-approved driver. To gain FAST approval, importers, carriers and drivers complete applications to customs administrations. Importers and carriers must demonstrate a history of complying with legislative and regulatory requirements and commit to security-enhancing practices as required by C-TPAT. Upon FAST approval, carriers are given eGo windshield sticker tags to mount in trucks. Commercial drivers who pass the application screening are asked to report to an enrollment center for an interview, review of identification and citizenship documents, fingerprinting and digital photography. When approved, they are issued a commercial driver card, which contains both a photo and biographical information. As a truck approaches a FAST lane at a crossing, a wireless RFID reader recognizes the unique identification number encoded into both the trucks windshield sticker tag and the drivers identity card and associates this information with import, carrier and driver information already submitted to the system electronically. An alert is then sent to the inspection booth, notifying agents that the truck is or is not FAST compliant, whether fees have been paid, and displaying a digital image of the driver along with biographical information. Compliant trucks are signaled to proceed. Non-compliant trucks may be redirected for further inspection. Background on FAST and Border Securit

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Categories: Payments & Commerce | Payments General
Countries: World
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