TSA contracts for airport access control

Transportation Security Administration

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In an effort to secure airports themselves, not just departing flights, the Transportation Security Administration awarded a contract last week to Unisys Corp. to identify technology that can be used to control access to airport facilities.

TSA, an agency of the Homeland Security Department, granted a 20-month deal to Unisys to serve as systems integrator for the Airport Access Control pilot program. Unisys is also the lead contractor on TSA's billion-dollar Information Technology Managed Services program.

The security pilot program will evaluate new technologies at a minimum of 20 airports. A wide range of technologies will be tested, such as biometrics.

Testing a variety of technologies will allow TSA to discover the most effective security measures available, said TSA spokesperson Brian Turmail.

"We want to take a look at these in a controlled environment and see which are most effective and provide the best possible security when it comes to airport access control," Turmail said.

In addition to biometric technology, the use of next-generation surveillance cameras may be used at critical access points.

According to TSA Administrator James Loy, the Airport Access Control program fits into TSA's broader view of improving transportation security.

"This pilot project holds great potential for adding another important layer of security at the nation's airports," Loy said.

Tom Conaway, Unisys' managing partner for homeland security, agreed that TSA is on the right track for increasing airport security.

"Rather than having individual airports doing this on their own, TSA is taking a centralized approach to determining the best security technologies."

The initial task order is valued at $8 million.

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