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Stacking Up Security at Seaports

Stacking Up Security at Seaports

Every day, more than two million commercial container shipments move in the seas, and security plays a vital role in ensuring the fluidity of trade and commerce through cargo shipping. Maintaining or upgrading seaport security requires a combined effort of video surveillance, access control, perimeter detection, management software, building technologies, and proper people and processes. According to Schneider Electric, the market for seaport security products and solutions is estimated to be around US$200 to 300 million in the U.S. alone, and $1 to 2 billion worldwide. As a result of heightened security alerts worldwide, before a ship approaches a port, its physical data, every container carried, next destination and other threat matrices should be carefully vetted and recorded by the port authority. The same due diligence should be applied to secure the site itself, making this vertical a promising one to many.

A sea port is a dynamic environment where a considerably transient population exists, some of which may only require limited access on a temporary basis, said Paul Labow, President of ePortation. “Consequently, a security system for a seaport requires a great deal of flexibility and adaptability to function properly. Although security is always of paramount importance, a seaport is first and foremost a commercial enterprise, and interruption in the free flow of cargo and equipment has material and expensive ramifications.” Security systems at seaports, thus, have multiple uses aside from guarding the safety of cargo and people; an effective system covers different bases on behalf of security personnel and contributes to smoother management and operations of seaport activities.

The geographical and financial importance of a seaport is the driver behind any upgrade, expansion and new seaport projects around the globe. “The security business in seaports has been experiencing growth for several reasons,” said Pat Kiernan, Marketing Director for the Americas, Nice Systems. “First, the increasing focus on ports as potential terrorist targets; second, the number of regulations that have been evolving in recent years for port security such as the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and the Maritime Transportation Safety Act; third, the financial and economic values associated with cargo — or important resources such as oil and gas — handled at seaports.”

In Europe, there is full potential in Ireland and the U.K. for security products in seaport upgrade projects, although opportunities and market growth depend on the budget available under government austerity measures, said Donal Colfer, Integrated Solutions Group Manager in the U.K., ADT Fire & Security. “In the U.S., expansion and upgrade projects have fueled the need to consider integration between different security systems,” Kiernan said. “For instance, we see many projects adopting perimeter security upgrades for seaports where they put in fiber fences as well as video surveillance with VCA. These, in turn, need to be integrated for full security management.”

Strong interest from Western Africa and the Middle East is also present, commented Larry Bowe, President of PureTech Systems. “In Israel, there is a large project at the Port of Haifa, which decided to upgrade its perimeter security for about US$6 million,” said Hagai Katz, Senior VP of Marketing and Business Development, Magal Security Systems. “We also see numerous projects in Africa taking place in order to meet the ISPS Code.”

Indeed, since the ISPS Code came into effect in 2004, seaports have security systems. Newer security technologies, as a result, have good potential in the seaport vertical.

Seashore security (such as to detect approaching ships and suspicious incoming boats) and onshore security (such as to protect docks, container yards and administrative buildings) have individual requirements. Simply speaking, waterside security utilizes more virtual barriers like long-range surveillance cameras and radar detection for alert purposes, whereas onshore security is composed of common systems like surveillance, access control, and intrusion and fire detection to monitor people, properties and daily operations.

Typically, much more attention is given to land, Bowe commented. “In most cases, seaports would put in a traditional system for both water and land, even though waterside security is a different animal with different issues and needs. The reason for this may be lack of funds, or more likely because the waterside is a tricky area to protect as it tends to be very busy, expansive and has high traffic.”

In today's security - rich environment, any waterside incident would alert a land response team; therefore, these two areas are typically specified and integrated at the same time for total management, said William Moore, Business Development Manager for Oil and Gas, Schneider Electric.

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