Port Security Reaching Beyond Bounds

Port Security Reaching Beyond Bounds

With mounting acts of terrorism around the world, ports today rank tremendously high in risk, lacking many aspects of a dependable security infrastructure. A&S International investigates rising global and national needs that call for state-of-the-art technologies at ports to secure human lives, goods, facilities and vessels.

Ports today are better equipped, more cohesively integrated with the supply chain, and pivotal in facilitating world trade. From being user-friendly trade media to boasting enhanced security operations, they are experiencing efforts of government agencies and international organizations to strike a fragile balance between security and commerce.

However, the threat of terrorism could be disastrous, crippling ports and causing a negative chain reaction to the entire maritime supply chain. Aside from terrorism, illegal immigrants, drug trafficking and cargo theft also pose tangible threats to national and global security. There remains, therefore, quite a span of work to be done to increase the security and efficiency of ports.

"New legislation, government initiatives and burgeoning new technologies are bringing about a specter of massive financial expenditures for both commercial businesses and government organizations," said Joe Delaney, VP of Sales and Marketing at Datastrip. The U.S. Port Safety and Security Survey Report delivered by Market Access International and Homeland Defense Journal discloses that the potential global market for port security is projected to be in the billions of dollars, and even now, U.S. ports have a US$5 billion-plus shopping list of security items they intend to purchase over the next few years. This investment can be seen as a response to the 2002 International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS), demanding that ports collect and exchange security information; detect, deter and assess threats; implement the appropriate technology; standardize port procedures; and abide by international and local legislation to strengthen communication between ports.

Priority Solutions
To preempt threats, perimeters at ports are being pushed outward, and actions to provide background checks for all port personnel, secure cargo containers and increase video surveillance coverage have been implemented, said Delaney.

Extending Perimeters and Vesse l Tracking
Ports span over a vast area, typically two to three miles long. On land, where the core operation is, fences, intrusion detectors, cameras and video analytics are used to monitor the perimeter. Physical barriers and electronics are currently helping to push perimeters outward because the further one can detect an event, the better one can respond, said Chris Abts, Branch Manager of North Texas Security and Fire, Johnson Controls.

On the water front, the more knowledge port authorities have about vessel traffic beyond the reach of conventional cameras, the better equipped they will be to deal with potential threats. Regulations such as automatic identification systems (AIS) issued under the International Maritime Organization's international convention for the safety of life at sea demand all ships averaging 300 or more tons to transmit identification signals. "Vessel-tracking management systems, a combination of AIS and radar technology, identify authorized vessels and their directions when entering ports, giving authorities information to make quick decisions from," said
Eddy Maldague, GM of Zenitel Belgium and Wireless France.

Stable and less susceptible to water or weather conditions, radar is incorporated into other security measures to better protect ports. "Radar video solutions, coupled with video analytics and long-range cameras, can be used for tracking suspicious smaller vessels that do not emit AIS signals," said Jeremy Howard, Global Account Manager, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Honeywell Security. Video analytics alone is insufficient because water scenes are far too erratic for video analytics to work completely, causing countless nuisance alarms, said Howard.

"Long - range cameras with continuous zoom optics enable better target acquisition and tracking because its continuous zoom settings can be automatically controlled by the radar to account for radar resolution errors or moving target tracking," said Randall Foster, CEO of Vumii. "With long-range, day/night surveillance, security personnel from the port can identify ships two iles out, and respond to distress signals (such as flags turned upside down) or other situations that require immediate attention."

Ports can also opt for perimeter protection using a geographical information system-enabled map coupled with strategic camera positioning and video analytics to detect and classify objects, including people, cars, ships and planes, all under a single-view, multisensory solution, said Leting He, Sales Manager of International Sales Development, Security Solutions, Siemens Building Technologies.

Port security remains a promising growth area for video surveillance, given its importance to the global economy, combined with increased threats from terrorism, organized crime and common theft, said John Monti, VP of Marketing and Business Development for Pixim. With such an expansive area to cover and so many people and containers to keep track of, automated and integrated video surveillance systems on land and equally integrated and mobile water systems must be deployed for effective monitoring. Challenges such as extreme or variable lighting, the erratic nature of water, extreme temperatures and an excess of dust and grime defy regular conditions under which video surveillance is employed. As such, several types of video surveillance systems exist today to protect ports, including fixed low-light cameras, wide-dynamic cameras, PTZ cameras, long-range cameras, thermal imaging and video analytics.

Core Ope rations on Land
One common problem with core operations on land is accurate video capture of trucks as they enter or leave port facilities. "Driver's face, truck license plate and truck markings/descriptions are all critical pieces of information that must be collected at all entrances and exits. This is difficult due to ever-changing lighting and weather conditions," said Monti. To overcome unreliable image quality resulting from variable lighting reflections from water, older CCD and CMOS-based imaging sensors have turned to wide-dynamic, all-digital technology.

"This technology offers accurate color rendition and reduces video noise and artifacts such as blooming and smear — even in extreme lighting," said Monti. Another challenge in video surveillance is covering large areas, which can be overcome by using thermal imaging for detection, most effective when combined with video analytics and command and control software, said Steven Williams, Industry Manager, Oil/Gas, Energy and Maritime, Pelco (a Schneider Electric company) Additionally, to cover more ground with fewer cameras, "PTZ cameras that have 360-degree, high-zoom, low-light and easy integration capabilities can be employed," added Williams. Intelligent video provides security personnel with the tools needed to move from today's reactive approach to a proactive strategy and possibly prevent incidents before they occur, said He. As there is a lot of information available today with live feeds from cameras, video analytics is designed to make decisions out in the field, leading to a more sophisticated understanding of and response to the situation.

On the Water Front
Only positioning cameras around the port and monitoring statically is limited; patrol vessels need cameras installed to make surveillance mobile, but as of now, surveillance on water is not yet uniform. Survey vessels (typically 500 meters out) can opt for laser video surveillance that scans ports above water surface, providing change detections that can be configured for hour-to-hour or day-to-day detection, said Peter Canter, Director of Marine Products, Applanix. Most ports and harbors already have boats to monitor the depth for clearance of ships, ensuring the bottom of ports do not fill up with filter sediments, which means that installing efficient camera and laser surveillance technology to these existing boats could improve port security, Canter clarified.

Cargo Scanning
While cargo theft is a threat to be reckoned with, the current major concern is terrorists loading explosives into containers, essentially turning them into weapons. "Projected costs of billions of dollars are anticipated if a 'dirty bomb' were to be sent via a shipping container," said Michael Liard, Research Director, RFID and Contactless, ABI Research. "A crisis such as this could help halt critical shipping operations and traffic at leading world ports." A look at trade figures shows that worldwide container traffic is projected to grow to roughly 600 million containers transported annually by 2015, according to the European Commissions Taxation and Customs Union. In the United States, the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) was issued under the Security and Accountability for Every Port (SAFE) Act in 2001, requiring all imported cargo containers to be scanned for radiation. Additional legislative initiatives include the 2004 Container Security Initiative (CSI) that demanded prescreening for high-risk containers at ports of departure, and use of smarter, tamper-evident containers (with RFID seals). CSI is currently operational in 10 European ports, while the European Customs Security Program of 2004 has also advanced cargo inspection and engaged in international customs cooperation. In Asia, China's cooperation with Europe effective from 2007 has ensured exchange of electronic information on sea containers that travel between the Netherlands, United Kingdom and China. To this end, robust risk assessment technologies to screen all containers and inspect those that pose the greatest hazards must be in play, said Liard. Container scanning technologies include gamma-ray imaging systems, passive radiation detection systems, x-ray inspection systems, radiation portal monitors and nuclear detection gate systems. Imaging systems can now be integrated with radiation detection using x-ray imaging technology, configured to simultaneously image container contents, detect radiation and identify nuclides, which can help intercept nuclear weapons or other contraband (smuggled or stolen goods) with minimal impact on traffic flow, said Alex Preston, Senior VP and GM of Business Unit, SAIC. "X-ray imaging systems alone view contents of closed containers, helping operators detect weapons, contraband or other items of interest," continued Preston. Radiation portal monitors such as advanced spectroscopic portals are panel-like devices that contain detectors used to screen people, cars, trucks and containers, and are used at more than 600 ports in the U.S. today. “Previously, portal monitors would pick up unharmful, naturally occurring radiation such as kitty litter or bananas that would require secondary screening of the cargo and impede the flow in the number of t rucks and containers passing through each port," said Carol Sobel, Media Relations Manager, Communications, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. "To address this issue, a new generation of portals using advanced threat identification algorithms to not only detect but also identify nuclear materials has resulted in very low false-alarm rates for improved cargo flow." When dangerous radioactive material is detected, automatic detection screens can show the position of the material within the container, and with the use of centralized alarm registration, users can detect illicit nuclear and radioactive material at high transport speeds, said He. To date, efforts must continue to secure containerized trade against terrorist attacks by implementing clear security procedures, better technical solutions, electronic cargo seals and advanced inspection techniques, said Liard.

Authorizing Access
To ensure that suspicious individuals do not freely access port facilities and vessels, the U.S. government and federal agencies have attempted to improve access control through the Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) program for all maritime workers requiring unescorted access to secure areas of ports. Approximately 1.2 million civilian maritime workers require TWIC cards, including truck drivers, stevedores, longshoremen, merchant mariners, etc. Globally, ports in other countries such as the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands, and the Port of Halifax, Canada, have also taken similar actions. "Biometric technology provides the only certain method of binding the credential to the person and thus it is an important security component in a multilayered approach to securing access to facilities and vessels in maritime sectors," said Walter Hamilton, Chairman of the International Biometric Industry Association (IBIA) and a Senior Consultant with Identification Technology Partners. According to Winter Green Research, the U.S. market for biometric readers, sensors and scanners is anticipated to grow to $12.6 billion by 2010. Implementation of sensors into ports is also expected to maintain and hopefully increase the steady flow of commerce, said Matt Shannon, VP of the Public Sector at Lumidigm. In agreement, the Asian Seafarers Forum (ASF), estimated to control 40-percent of the world's cargo-carrying fleet, decided in 2005 for committee members to encourage their respective governments to expedite the process of issuing biometric ID cards to facilitate seafarers' shore leave and transit to and from vessels. Leading biometric sensors in compliance with international standards are fingerprint, finger vein and hand vein technologies; others include hand geometry, iris scan, facial recognition and so on.

"Traditional fingerprinting with total internal reflection has some obvious limitations that manifest themselves in a maritime environment; anything that gets between the finger and sensor creates a problem, such as seawater, dirt, grime or dust," commented Shannon. Multispectral imaging, however, uses multiple wavelengths of visible light to read both external and "internal" fingerprints, the advantage being that this technology identifies a set of capillaries below the skin identical to one's external fingerprint, which effectively resolves problems from dirty fingers, explained Shannon. "Vascular-pattern recognition such as hand veins employs a near-IR camera and proprietary algorithms to capture images of veins, arteries and capillaries four millimeters deep, found at the back of the human hand," said Terry Wheeler, President of Identica. The advantages of vascular recognition, on top of withstanding difficult port environments, include immediate identification (0.1 second per person) and enhanced user privacy. Vascular patterns, unlike fingerprints, cannot be inadvertently left behind, continued Wheeler. As such, countries that tightly regulate privacy laws may prefer vascular biometrics to fortify access control.

Balancing Act
Security technology will become much tighter, more integrated, and much more automated to bring higher efficiency to ports, said Howard. "We don't want security to slow down commerce; we actually look for ways security technology can improve the flow of commerce," emphasized Page Siplon, Executive Director of Georgia Center of Innovation Logistics (the center aims to accelerate the growth and competitiveness of the state's logistics industry). "The best and most effective technologies are going to be those that are business-driving and ROI-generating."

"The global supply chain is just that — global. As such, commerce is the concern of all nations. The security of commerce is therefore also a global concern," said Preston. Undoubtedly, it will take time and a massive international effort on part of government organizations, security providers and end users (including port workers, ship crew, etc.) to fully bring security up to par, and current efforts at ports around the world are seeing this colossal global cooperation picking up speed and heading for the right destination.

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