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Prioritizing Seaport Stakeholders

Security priorities differ considerably for different departments and agencies within a seaport. a&s examines
how each party's needs could be met when taking on seaport projects through an integrated approach.

When multiple stakeholders, such as law enforcement, port authority, freight handling, customs, inspection and quarantine, administration, parking and more, are present operating side-by-side on a daily basis, how each party's security risks and priorities are assessed and determined becomes the million-dollar question.

Most seaports strive to understand the requirements from various stakeholders before consulting system integrators or solution providers for system design and implementation. “Making sure every stakeholder's needs are considered and prioritized assures the investment in technology and infrastructure, has the greatest return and increases the likelihood of successful technology adoption,” explained Larry Bowe, President of PureTech Systems.

Each party has a specific function and security burden, which includes the security and safety of visitors and employees alike, said William Moore, Business Development Manager for Oil and Gas, Schneider Electric. For instance, at the Port of Houston in the U.S., there are more than 11 agencies — including state and municipal bodies — involved in the security process, and also other end users like oil and gas and shipping companies. “Oftentimes, this structure results in independent and uneven security systems,” Moore said.

Security efforts (and related accountability) used to be quite dispersed. After the introduction of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code in 2004, a collaborative approach has been adopted to bring security at seaports to the set standards, as different agencies began to share resources, including budge t s , for their security system installations. “The stakeholders began working together to prevent overlapping of technologies,” said Ed Merkle, Director of Port Security and Emergency Operations, Port of Virginia.

“Redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing, but with this approach the different agencies are able to pool in and ensure prudent use of resources for maximum quality of security.” Often, the agencies convene for committee meetings to understand what solutions are offered by system integrators (SIs). “These security committees are responsible for finding the best products available within budgetary parameters,” Moore said.

“The committee members are usually open to the SI's suggestions on the best security technology in the industry, as none of these committee members want to integrate subpar products that could harm employees and visitors.”

All stakeholders should be informed, during project implementation, of the value of the technology, and those using and managing the system should receive proper training, Bowe said. “For seaports that are currently in the process of designing a security system, this would be a great time to speak with other ports in adjacent areas that have used this collaboration approach.”


For seaport projects since 2004, port authorities or port management companies usually take lead in putting the required equipment in for all. Each stakeholder advises the information it requires and other needs it might have. Under normal circumstances, port authorities would have a central security team to oversee the entire security infrastructure on the site, said Donal Colfer, Integrated Solutions Group Manager in the U.K., ADT Fire & Security.

“At seaports, law enforcement is usually of leading importance, and they are mainly interested in a reliable surveillance system of high forensic value,” explained Aluisio Figueiredo, COO of Intelligent Security Systems.

“Some law enforcement teams keep a ‘face book' of incoming/outgoing people by using facial capture capabilities native in the video management software. This provides the team with good references when suspicious activities are reported.”

Many border/customs agencies across the globe focus on a good container recognition and tracking system. “It is important for customs officers to know the track of every single container transported through a port,” Figueiredo said. For instance, a clear record is required of the arrival of Container XYZ on which ship, where it is moved to upon unloading, how much it weighs, if it has gone through radiation detection and with which truck it has left after clearing the customs. “If any discrepancy is picked up during any stage of the process, the officers would be able to deal with the situation immediately,” Figueiredo said. This is especially effective when targeting illegal-substance trafficking or detection.

“Typically, what we see is the agencies coming together to determine who does what for certain situations,” said James Chong, CTO of VidSys. “The organizations talk through the potential risks and priorities for known situation types and assess and determine each agency's role. Without this process, there is no clear delineation of responsibilities, so coming to agreement on situation procedures prior to an event and then having clear communication with stakeholders when a situation arises are critical.”

With cutting-edge technologies, seaports are able to pool in resources for an integrated security solution that addresses needs of different on-site stakeholders, while maintaining central management. “The integrated security approach acts as the glue that affixes together technologies, processes, human resources and concept of operations,” said Hagai Katz, Senior VP of Marketing and Business Development, Magal Security Systems.

Central management software is capable of addressing each unit's special needs by allowing each unit to access the information most desired. “The GUI is customizable, and depending on which user is logged in, the credential could be used to show only the information this particular user is looking for,” Figueiredo said.

“This means that law enforcement personnel are able to focus on surveillance data and looking for faces, while the customs officers could focus on container records for effective container recognition and tracking.” The physical-IT convergence is bearing fruits at seaports, providing unified on-site security management and response, as well as operational efficiency. “Over the past seven years at the Port of Virginia, our physical and IT departments have gone from tolerating to cooperating with one another, and are now finally collaborating as a team,” Merkle said.

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