A watchful eye

Joined up: ports need to consider a more integrated security solution for 2016
Joined up: ports need to consider a more integrated security solution for 2016
"To be safe and efficient, ports must continually adopt new technologies, processes, and procedures," Chuck Dougherty, As&E

Chuck Dougherty outlines his top five must-have port security initiatives for 2016

Port security is a growing concern around the world. The importance of a comprehensive security strategy is greater than ever, as threats continue to increase—from trade fraud, to drug smuggling, to weapons and people trafficking. And, with billions of containers and vehicles passing through ports every year, operational throughput is also a critical factor when implementing port security strategies.

To be safe and efficient, ports must continually adopt new technologies, processes, and procedures that are not only successful at screening for contraband, but also at optimising port productivity. As we head into 2016, we are seeing a global emphasis on new and innovative methods to combat evolving threats in ports, while also preserving the flow of commerce. 

Hit list

Below are the top five security initiatives we see being implemented by leading port authorities. While many of these are driven by throughput concerns, a number of ports are adopting new strategies in response to the United States’ Secure Freight Initiative, which defines the minimum level of port security standards required in order to ship goods to the US. No matter what the driver is, these initiatives benefit everyone because port security is clearly a global issue.

  1. Centralised data and user management: Ports are deploying multiple detection systems and sophisticated technologies, such as license plate and container ID readers and software that compares images of a vehicle at different checkpoints, automatically highlighting differences. With these more advanced security operations comes the need for a centralised network to capture and analyse all the data from multiple remote stations. By streaming the data to a single point of command, port authorities get a view of their entire security operation so they can quickly correlate threats, disseminate intelligence, and make more informed decisions.
  2. More thorough detection capabilities: Contraband comes in all varieties. In addition to uncovering trade fraud, scanning systems must be able to detect organic compounds like drugs, and metallic threats such as weapons. In the past, this typically required multiple systems, but now that technology has improved, many newer systems can effectively scan for organic and metallic contraband simultaneously, leading to better detection and higher throughput.
  3. Complementary, integrated solutions: The most successful security and contraband detection systems in the world contain not one, but several complementary platforms and technologies. By using a completely integrated solution consisting of fixed portals that screen trucks and cargo entering the port, mobile platforms deployed throughout the port, and portable units that scan in hard-to-reach places, ports can be more successful at detecting a far greater number of threats.
  4. More mobile platforms: Mobile detection systems give ports the ability to quickly and easily scan in hard-to-reach areas. With their ability to be deployed and moved to various locations at a moment’s notice, mobile systems are a flexible, cost-effective option.
  5. Achieving effective operation with high throughput: There are new and advanced technologies that achieve high throughput while preserving detection and radiation safety. Low-power, low-dosage, drive-through X-ray detection systems can safely scan the vehicle and occupants, while higher energy drive-through systems can provide greater penetration and exclude scanning the truck’s cab entirely. With the increasing adoption of these systems, ports can operate with greater efficiency, and ultimately greater security.   

As we enter 2016, countries are facing more threats than ever. In response, we can expect port officials to adopt new measures that provide the most effective means of contraband detection, while maintaining the flow of commerce.

We anticipate this will mean deploying more mobile systems for their flexibility and manoeuvrability, adopting fully integrated solutions that take advantage of the latest advancements in detection technology, and leveraging a centralised network to capture data and optimise analysis.

Chuck Dougherty is chief executive of American Science and Engineering.

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