PIV for first responders

WHO ARE YOU? The PIVMAN makes it possible to check IDs at emergency sites.

CoreStreet Ltd. of Cambridge, Mass., (www.corestreet.com) has always been a software company, not a hardware company. And CoreStreet president Phil Libin insists it still is, although when the company launched its new PIVMAN system, fronted by a rugged, handheld smart-card reader, GCN was intrigued.

To be clear, CoreStreet doesn't make the actual PIVMAN (it contracted with a third-party manufacturer), but it developed the client and server software required for PIVMAN devices to authenticate identification cards in the field.

The PIVMAN is a mobile identification checking system that supports the federal government's new FIPS-201-standard Personal Identity Verification cards, plus a slew of others. Such solutions are increasingly important. Access control is straightforward at established entry points such as doors, but in a disaster, how can agencies ensure first responders should have access to a site?

Although CoreStreet officially launched the system this month, Libin said it's been piloted in several government exercises, most notably February's Winter Fox interoperability demonstration. In Winter Fox, the Homeland Security Department and other agencies tested how well a credentialing system could support a variety of ID cards, including FIPS-201 cards.

Libin said the PIVMAN can handle FIPS-201, First Responder Access Cards, Defense Department Common Access Cards, the Transportation Worker Identity Credential and others. Add an optional 2-D bar code reader and the system can authenticate state driver's licenses.

The system pushes out a compressed, digitally signed identity and privilege list to every PIVMAN reader when the reader has network access (wired or wireless). The IPL is built from the various certificate authorities that support the disparate ID systems. Because in theory the reader should always have the latest IPL, it can continue to authenticate individuals even when offline.

There are other companies working on components of a solution to authenticate first responders, but Libin said CoreStreet heard enough from customers who wanted a single integrated system to begin offering its own end-to-end product. 'We think this does something meaningful for smart cards,' he said.

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