The Virginia Port Authority (VPA) has initiated a project to leverage software developer Orsus' Situator alarm system to monitor visitors who arrive without the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), said Captain Mike Brewer, operations division commander for the VPA police department.

The Situator is a software-based, alarm and notification system, explained Rafi Bhonker, the company's vice president of sales and marketing. The product lets users determine pre-programmed alarms consolidated in a single view, he said. It also offers GIS mapping features to track users and records the data for later analysis.

"The software consolidates information coming from multiple sources into one visual map and then also enables pre-planning responses based on the trigger of a specific alert or a combination of alerts," Bhonker said. "This reduces false alarms and lets the operator responsible to perform the specific actions needed."

Brewer said the port authority needed a solution to meet TWIC requirements, which is a Coast Guard-approved, common identification credential that is tamper resistant and contains the worker's biometric fingerprint for a positive link between the card holder and the card. TWIC requires that anyone needing access to secure areas of Marine Transportation Security Act-regulated vessels and facilities to have a Coast Guard issued identification credential or be escorted at all times, he said. To track visitors, the VPA installed the software system. But unlike other police agencies, the port authority doesn't need a CAD system that tells the dispatcher where to send the police officer because it is operating in a confined area with a limited amount of resources.

"Instead, we wanted a technology that was a complete display and [would] enhance the dispatcher's ability to respond, and bring it all to one dashboard or screen," Brewer said. "In addition, the software lets us plug in our systems and control security and monitor systems from one place with fewer people."

The software supports the port authority's Trusted Agent program, which lets visitors access secure areas of the port by providing them with a Nextel Sprint phone equipped with a radio and navigational system from Xora Co. When paired with software, it provides command center operators with the ability to track and monitor their whereabouts on port property and directly contact them, Brewer said. He said it will enable the Virginia Port Authority to maintain TWIC compliance because the handheld device can "notify dispatchers by communicating if the visitor with the device enters a restricted area, a section of the port he is not authorized to enter or if the device doesn't move for a pre-defined period of time," he said.

Bhonker said the software is sold via a license fee, which is determined by the number of workstations and upgrades. It starts at $200,000.