By R. Bruce Striegler

Integrated security technology management

The threats that terrorism has presented to the maritime industry, including ports, represent complex challenges, and the industry has turned to technology to provide solutions. Challenges include the security of containers without impeding logistics, authentication of and access to employees and legitimate port visitors, monitoring port grounds and waterside facilities, etc.

At PortSecure 2012, an in-depth panel discussion led by Louis Noreiga, Port of Miami’s Chief of Seaport Information Systems discussed integrated security and technology management. Randy Barnby, Senior Program Manager at L3 Security and Detection Systems began his presentation by saying, “Threats to the supply chain will continue to evolve in the coming years and, with that in mind, it is important that we continue to engage in the type of dialogue we are having at PortSecure to ensure we are all developing solutions that mitigate these potential threats.”

Port of Miami uses cutting-edge technology and progressive procedures to provide high levels of protection while supporting compliance with port business policies. As an example, working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Port was the first in the American Southeast to install radiation portal monitors (RPM’s). This state-of-the-art inspection technology strengthens security without impeding the flow of cargo.

Port of Miami has one of the industry’s most technologically advanced cargo gate facilities, integrating security functions such as access control and authentication with business pro­cesses, including permitting and accounting. A combination of trendsetting software and hardware components produces faster processing times, ensuring compliance with Port business policies at the 16-lane cargo complex.

Integration on a practical scale

Barnby said, “I’d like to talk about ways these technologies can be integrated into existing operations of all sizes with the goal of maximizing the benefits, improving overall efficiency and sharing information among the various stakeholders. Network integration is an absolutely massive challenge, so today I’m going to focus on cargo security integration.”

He continued by saying that when discussing integration, we need to change our views on technology. “Rather than look at each of the individual technologies as independent devices with their own software and operational concerns, we need to look at each of these as a series of sensors.”

The sensors provide data into a much larger network, and by adding wired or wireless connections, the data can be collected, managed and distributed. “This is the first step in ensuring the right people receive the right information at the right time.”

The ‘sensors’ that make up a contemporary port security structures include wide area security systems which integrate radar, automatic identification systems (AIS) and video.  At Port of Miami, this system is used for authentication of employees and other authorized port visitors. The Port uses its system to control access to the restricted cargo areas. All ­vehicles entering the restricted area must be screened before access is granted. Using video cameras, proximity readers, magnetic stripe readers, bio­metrics, OCR readers, card-imagers, cameras and microphones, all vehicles and persons are screened and equipment information is captured and stored.

For container screening, the Port uses non-intrusive gamma screening of containers as the truck exits the inbound cargo gates to confirm that a container is empty, eliminating the need to manually open the container doors.

Internet connectivity is key to integration

Randy Barnby of L-3 Security Systems says, “Some simple examples of competent cargo technologies and data they generate include manifest data. This includes detailed shipment information, contents of that particular shipment, and can also include data received from Customs in the form of a threat assessment or a flagged cargo that may result in a requirement  of a further inspection.”

When it comes to radiation threat detection, Barnby says they can be just as simple as an alarm indicating there’s a threat in a specific container. “It can be spectrum data, however some of the more advanced technologies will actually tell you what’s in that container – for instance this is a load of bananas or kitty litter. Any questionable material would set off a very basic alarm.”

He continues, saying, “There is a lot of really neat stuff, systems such as biological and heat signature tools. And when you are thinking about integrated systems, these could include GPS or other location data, or it could be complex visual data from CCTV systems.” An example of a large-scale video management system can be found in Port of Miami’s operation centre where a large analog/digital recording system has been migrated to an IP video management system that consists of over 850 cameras and 30 network video recorders.

“Network integration is the way of the future. Even if you are not integrating systems into a network tomorrow, you should consider new technology purchases in the context of integration. So, as you are spending large sums of money, if you specify Internet connectivity to your suppliers, it will make your life much easier in the future.” Barnby continues, saying that once all the sensors are connected, “The next step in the process is to display that data in a coherent and organized fashion. In a networked environment, data may be displayed on a desktop, but we live in the era of iPad, so it may be something as simple as a smartphone.”

“When it comes to command centres and data management, the words often evoke images of a NASA control centre with 50 people manning numerous terminals. However, the reality and beauty of networking is that it’s perfectly scalable. A command centre may be as simple as one individual sitting in front of a terminal viewing data from two connected systems and using those data to make a decision.”

What seemed clear from this discussion at PortSecure 2012 is that as global trade continues to be vital to Canada, and as security technology continues to advance at a lightening pace, partnerships and sharing of information will continue to be vital to protect our national economic and social interests. As Mr. Barnby says, we need to look at the use of technology in a new way.