Homeland Security

CBP: RFID doesn't work if you're in the wrong line

Border crossing lane

All the speed and efficiency that RFID-equipped documents can offer border-crossers at official Customs and Border Protection check points are useless if those people drive into the wrong line.

That's what CBP is hoping to make clear at one of its most heavily-trafficked border crossings on Oct.26. The agency is conducting a "Ready Lane education and traffic segregation project" at the sprawling El Paso, Texas, border facility that it hopes will help sort out the long lines to get into the U.S.

The initiative is aimed at getting people and vehicles in the correct "Ready Lanes," which are technically equipped to read electronically-equipped ID documents, such as drivers licenses, passport cards and other documents that are used to cross officially into the U.S.

The simple feat of getting motorists in the correct line has deep implications for CBP's duties at official border crossings, especially at the Paso Del Norte Bridge. The site is one of the busiest official crossings along the U.S. southern border, with millions of people crossing on foot and in vehicles from Ciudad Juarez in Mexico across the Rio Grande every year.

Small delays at CBP's checkpoints at the bridge, which is a critical economic engine in the region, can snowball into big waits times to cross into the U.S.

CBP said it has already put LED lighting above Ready Lanes' entry booths at the border crossing, but it doesn't seem to be enough to effectively separate the RFID document holders from the non-RFID masses.

The agency said during its education event, travelers trying to enter the Ready Lane who do not have the right cards will be steered into adjacent non-Ready Lanes and given an informational flyer on Ready Lane requirements. CBP said the most common non-RFID enabled documents its officers find include birth certificates, driver licenses, ID cards and Social Security cards.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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