How an integrated identity solution tightened aviation and maritime security in Australia

The Aviation and Maritime Security (AMS) Division - formerly the Office of Transport’s Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC) and Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) programs have a crucial role in safeguarding the aviation, maritime and offshore oil and gas sectors from acts of terrorism and unlawful interference.

In Australia, an ASIC or MSIC is required under Federal Law for:

  • a person who has an operational need for unescorted access to the secure areas in airports and security zones of security-regulated ports, ships and offshore oil and gas facilities; or
  • a person who performs a specifically prescribed security-sensitive role.

On November 2016, the Australian government introduced new legislation for the MSIC and ASIC schemes. Once it was enforced on 1 August 2017, all ASIC, MSIC and White ASIC/MSIC applicants were required to have their identity verified in-person by an accredited White ASIC/MSIC holder.

The scale of what this new legislation involved called for collaboration between one of Australia’s established technology companies and the country’s trusted identity services provider.

This led to Veritas and Australia Post striking up a national deal that enabled ASIC and MSIC applicants to lodge their application with Veritas and get their identity verified in-person at any of the 377 participating Post Offices nationwide.

Forging a partnership

Australia Post, which conducts over 8 million identity-related transactions annually, has facilitated identity verification for MSIC applicants over the past 10 years.

“Veritas and Australia Post jointly recognised the intrinsic value of building upon this foundation to extend its service offerings to the aviation industry’s ASIC program,” said Stephen Inouye, Veritas’ Managing Director.

A longstanding history and experience in identity services made Australia Post the obvious choice of a partner but it was its vast physical footprint that had the biggest impact on the success of the solution.

Many ASIC/MSIC issuing bodies don’t own bricks and mortar outlets. Australia Post, on the other hand, have a very wide network Post Offices nationwide. 90 per cent of MISC and ASIC applicants in metropolitan areas live within 7.5km of a Post Office.

“We have valuable data insights into locations with the highest demand for this service in the past,” explained Christian Seely, Australia Post’s Head of Growth Markets, Identity Services. “And in this case most of these Post Offices would have to be close to airports.”

“So we worked with Veritas to determine which and how many Post Offices would offer an in-person identity verification service based on these data insights.”

Inouye added that over a period of months, the joint team developed a solution that met strict regulatory requirements for the lodgement, verification and distribution of identification data.

“But further to that, the solution also provided more convenience for tens of thousands of applicants who require ongoing renewal of these credentials for work purposes.”

An integrated, omni-channel solution

Veritas first raised the idea of an integrated omni-channel solution with Australia Post almost two years before the legislation was introduced.

This forward thinking led to early discussions and preparation that proved valuable when both parties were given nine months to co-design a solution that was both compliant and provided a seamless customer experience.

“It was crucial that we took a customer-centric approach to this solution,” emphasised Seely. “This involved collaboration with Veritas to understand the problems and opportunities from an issuing body perspective, engagement with the regulator to deliver strong alignment to policy and ensuring that we kept the end-applicant experience front-of-mind at all times.”

The upfront planning and close communication between the two teams facilitated a smooth process towards the end result. By the time the legislative deadline arrived on 1 August 2017, all parties were ready to roll out the security identification cards to the applicants.

The process begins with an applicant filling in an online form hosted by Veritas. When the form is submitted, a QR Code is generated and the applicant’s data is sent to Australia Post’s identity system.

The applicant then presents the QR Code at a Post Office where it is scanned to retrieve the applicant’s data in order to conduct the identity verification. The applicant’s identity documents are scanned and their photo and signature captured.

The applicant’s data and image are electronically delivered to Veritas via Secure File Transfer within 15 minutes of the lodgement.

Veritas receives approvals within two weeks and the card is sent to approved applicants via Registered Post. This, according to Seely, was the most straightforward part of the process.

“We already owned a digital workflow and the end solution was our bread and butter. The real challenge was creating an accreditation programme as an ASIC/MSIC Identity Agent for our own staff.”

“Since every person involved in the identity verification transaction has to be White ASIC-accredited, we made sure that at least two staff in each of our 377 Post Offices were adequately trained and accredited so that an authorised staff member is available to conduct the service.”

The outcome

Since 1 August 2017, Australia Post has verified the identity of thousands of ASIC and MSIC applicants nationally.

“We’ve been able to leverage our unique reach to provide the community and the aviation and maritime industries with convenient access to this service, in addition to helping optimise the speed of service through our integrated system and near real-time data exchange,” said Seely.

“For our corporate clients, the use of a web portal creates an online workflow that simplifies the tracking and management of applicants, further eliminating the need for paper forms and providing real-time statuses of applications,” said Inouye.

Veritas’ integration with Australia Post has yielded ‘game-changing’ results for one particular client - Tasmanian Ports Corporation (TasPorts). The port operator had engaged Veritas to provide an integrated on-boarding system that would help it meet higher security compliance obligations and reduce the operational commitment required to routinely process their MSIC and ASIC applications.

This new system combines Veritas’ MSIC/ASIC solutions, a new online induction system and integration with the port’s state-wide access control system. Tasmanian port users can now submit their online application with Veritas and then lodge their applications at any of Australia Post’s Post Offices across Australia. 

“Veritas is proud to have worked with Australia Post on the delivery of these programs which in a small way contributes to the overall significance of the security of Australia,” said Inouye.

For Australia Post, the integrated solution makes on-boarding easy while continuing to maintain a high-security process. More significantly, it has also allowed the organisation to expand its identity services expertise in the enterprise space.

According to Regis Bauchiere, Australia Post's General Manager of Identity Services, “This service, in addition to our focus on Digital iDTM and biometrics, reinforces our commitment to continue providing innovative and customer-centric identity services nationally.”