Department of Homeland Security Credentialing Test For First Responders in Financial Sector

In mid July the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took a major step in implementing its system for credentialing public and private sector first responders by conducting a demonstration in Washington, D.C., and other cities across the U.S.

The development of a credentialing system has been a key objective for DHS since 9/11. The goal is to create common credentials for public and private first responders by working on key screening initiatives, including fostering the interoperability of credentialing systems for federal, state and local governments. The system is currently being deployed in the National Capital Region and in the State of Illinois.

Chicago financial institutions participated because the State of Illinois is in the early stages of implementing the system and the City of Chicago is evaluating it. The information gleaned from the demonstration will benefit both jurisdictions.

On July 19, Chicago, IL joined Pittsburgh, PA, Harrisburg, PA, Denver, CO, Jacksonville, FL and certain locations within and counties surrounding Washington, D.C., as well as states across the nation to test the technical capabilities of and familiarize participants with the First Responder Authentication Credential (FRAC) system. FRAC, a DHS initiative, uses the technology components of Federal Information Processing Standard 201 (FIPS 201) in order to verify identities with the goal to provide incident commanders with the electronic capability to grant emergency access privileges into, out of, or within an incident area to first responders, response support, and critical government personnel in the execution of disaster recovery efforts.

The demonstration simulated a disaster recovery area. Personnel used the electronic validation of FRAC technology to identify which participants had authorized access to the designated area by using hand-held readers to scan smart credentials from each participant. The credentials were used for identity assertion and dynamically linked demographic information about the participant to vital attributes (certifications, authorizations, qualifications and privileges) as the basis for whether or not they were approved to enter the quarantined area.

The day-long event had 500 participants, including ChicagoFIRST members, CME Group and The Options Clearing Corporation, and NCRfirst, a member of the ChicagoFIRST-led RPCfirst, a regional partnership coalition of public-private partnerships. The Financial Services Technology Consortium also participated.

Chicago financial institutions participated because the State of Illinois is in the early stages of implementing the system and the City of Chicago is evaluating it. The information gleaned from the demonstration will benefit both jurisdictions.

“Establishing a credentialing system for essential personnel to safely access business facilities during a disaster has long been a business objective of ChicagoFIRST,” said Brian Tishuk, Executive Director of ChicagoFIRST. “We were thrilled to participate in this demonstration and learn how differing governments use them. In fact, such a system would be very useful if Chicago succeeds in hosting the 2016 Olympics.”

ChicagoFIRST was formed in July 2003 by Chicago-area financial organizations and seeks to enhance the resilience of the Chicago financial community. Other similar organizations are being developed in Philadelphia, PA, Houston, TX, Birmingham, AL Jackson, MS, Las Vegas, NV, Seattle, WA, and Jacksonville, FL.





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