Ports take advantage of federal funds

The Port of Los Angeles, located in San Pedro Bay, is Southern California's 7,500-acre gateway to international commerce. Throughout 43 miles of waterfront and 27 cargo terminals, almost 190 million metric revenue tons of cargo pass through the terminals annually.

As part of the nation's critical infrastructure, the Port of Los Angeles, and other ports throughout the country, are receiving money from the federal government to pay for upgrading security, which often includes use of the latest security technologies.

In May, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) will offer $388.6 million to support sustainable, risk-based efforts to enhance access control and credentialing, protect against Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and other non-conventional attacks, and to conduct exercises for disaster-response scenarios. The grants are part of a total of $844 million in awards under the Infrastructure Protection Activities (IPA) grant program.

Including this year's funding, the department will have provided roughly $3 billion in grants for securing the nation's critical infrastructure and transportation systems, with nearly $1.5 billion of that in grants for ports since 2003.

The money is benefiting ports throughout the country, from the Port of Anchorage, Alaska, which will use $207,000 in federal grant money to improve its security command center, to Panama City, Fla., which will use $1.6 million to improve its security (see sidebar, page 17).

From Baltimore to Los Angeles, and at other ports in between, there is a focus on security, and available resources are making it possible to take advantage of the latest technologies to ensure top-of-the-line protection. This article will look at some of the technologies and how they are being implemented.

TWIC in L.A.

In 2003, when the Department of Transportation and U.S. Customs Service launched the "Operation Safe Commerce" program, the Port of Los Angeles started a relationship with Unisys Corp. to evaluate container security processes and global chain processes. Three years ago, Unisys, Blue Bell, Pa., signed on to be security advisor to the port.

Last year, the Port of L.A. released a request for proposal (RFP) asking for one organization to provide the port with field tests and management for the federal Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) program. TWIC is a joint effort of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the U.S. Coast Guard to help secure the nation's maritime transportation system. The port chose Unisys, and, as of press time, the company is finishing phase one of a four-phase process to determine which systems and devices will fit the port's needs.

"The first phase is analysis and design, in which the objective is to analyze the port's business processes and evaluate objectives to help them identify what high-level of design they will need for TWIC," says Ted Langhoff, director of Unisys' cargo and port security practice. Later phases include: procurement of devices; field test and execution; and reporting the results of the field test.

Langhoff says the timetable for completing the phases is flexible, especially because TWIC is a security issue that has to be understood in the context of operations. "Technology is a key part of [this process], but it's important to understand how technology interacts with business processes. By analyzing operations, we can find a good foundation and a high-level of design that will best meet security objectives with the least impact on operations," Langhoff says.

Two other factors are also affecting the timing of the integration. Unisys is contracted to design and manage an identification and access control system, using smart card and biometric technologies, to identify workers who require access to restricted areas in the port. However, with TWIC's current rulings, visitors or transportation workers who are not necessarily employees of the port also require TWIC cards, which requires the port to decide how to register visiting truckers and other workers.

According to George Cummings, director of Homeland security for the port, the number fluctuates based on who management decides needs access, but the rough estimate of people using technology at each of the port's terminals is 50,000-60,000.

According to TSA's Web site, there are currently 250,000 people in the entire industry with activated TWIC cards -- leaving possibly more than a million transportation workers still in need of TWIC cards. "This impacts timing because, when we are executing field tests or implementing an access control system that requires a TWIC card, it doesn't make a lot of sense to execute those tests when only a small percentage of the population has TWIC cards and are using them," Cummings says.

Until the specific technology is determined, according to TWIC rules, it is understood that the Port of L.A. will integrate an access control system that uses a tamper-resistant credential, or smart card. The card will include a biometric component -- a fingerprint template -- and a digital photograph that will integrate seamlessly with each operator's access control system and allow port facility security officers to identify all workers granted access to restricted areas. "The way maritime security is approached from the angle of TWIC is a risk management approach," Langhoff says. "It uses layers of security, and TWIC is certainly a layer. The TSA and Coast Guard view this as an important piece of the security strategy."

Langhoff says it's most important for all organizations, especially ports, to put in security measures that mitigate their highest level of risk.

Tom Conaway, managing partner, Homeland security, Unisys, agrees. "The benefit to our customers - and to the constituents they serve - is their ability to mitigate and manage risk."

For other terminals of the Port of L.A., Adesta LLC, Omaha, Neb., will design and deploy an access control, CCTV and a video content analysis system through two separate contracts. The total value of these contracts is more than $10 million. According to Keith Jansen, systems engineer for Adesta, they will expand on the port's Verint video management system by adding AMAG Technology and Pelco cameras at six locations within the port. Project completion is scheduled for this summer.

Video Analytics in Richmond, Calif.

Several hundred miles north of Los Angeles, the technology of video analytics is playing an integral role to another port's security.

When someone crosses a line at the Port of Richmond, Calif., a smart video surveillance system alerts the port's security personnel automatically in real-time. Digital cameras set up around the port's perimeter are tied into a server-based video analytics system that is configured to send an alarm if someone jumps a fence, for example, or loiters or engages in some other objectionable activity that the system can be pre-programmed to recognize. The system, which became operational this spring, was paid for by a $2.5 million Department of Homeland Security grant.

The Port of Richmond is located where shipyards supported the war effort in the 1940s, on the southern coast of Richmond, Calif., nine miles from the Golden Gate Bridge on the east shore of San Francisco Bay. The port, which has 32 miles of shoreline, specializes in non-containerized goods -- including import of Kia and Hyundai automobiles and liquid bulk shipments -- and has the third largest volume of tonnage among California ports. The port has 15 terminals, five owned by the city and 10 privately owned.

"All the ports at the federal and state level are working with the Department of Homeland Security to make seaports safer and less vulnerable to acts of terrorism," says Jim Matzorkis, executive director, Port of Richmond. "This is a positive first step."

Designed and integrated by ADT Security Services, Boca Raton, Fla., the video system at the Port of Richmond includes 64 fixed and 18 pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) day-night digital cameras supplied by Axis Communications, Lund, Sweden. They are protected by IP-66-rated environmental housings from Dotworkz Systems, San Diego. The cameras provide dual simultaneous video streams -- the less-compressed MJPEG for video analytics and the more-compressed MPEG-4 for storage. The cameras are connected using a wireless Mesh network of 31 nodes using radio transmission provided by BelAir Networks, Kanata, Ontario. An AW Networks gigabit wireless backhaul network transmits the video to a central location that uses software from Object-Video, Reston, Va., for video analytics, and a video storage/management system by Genius Vision Digital, Taipei, Taiwan.

The server-based video analytics system was chosen because it offers the ability to employ user-defined analytics tools to match various scenarios that the port might want to watch out for, now or in the future, including such things as "objects left behind" as well as virtual tripwires, loitering, etc. "We didn't want to limit the exception capabilities," says Jeff Gutierrez, national accounts manager for ADT Security Services, who notes that the inclusion of edge-based analytics within the cameras was not common two years ago when the project was envisioned. Even now, analytics at the edge tend to be less flexible than server-based systems, he adds.

"A wireless solution was the only thing that would meet the requirements of the system within the cost restraints," Gutierrez adds. The high-throughput, low-latency BelAir network offers enough capacity to carry a lot of information around the city streets, taking advantage of point-to-point and multipoint-to-multipoint nodes. The system is easily expandable.

When the video analytics trigger an alarm, the operator can control the PTZ cameras to view the problem area from multiple angles, or the cameras can be programmed to move to pre-set locations to view the alarm.

The City of Richmond is installing a similar system, and future plans include the possibility of networking the systems together.

Port of Houston Gets Certified

At the Port of Houston, certification of security readiness is playing an important role that could foreshadow similar efforts at other ports.

The Port of Houston -- a 25-mile-long port consisting of diversified public and private facilities -- is ranked first in the United States in foreign waterborne tonnage and second in total tonnage. The Port of Houston is the first in the world to receive ISO 28000:2007 certification for security management.

After a three-year process of the development of Port of Houston Authority's (PHA) security management system, and its application to Port Police and the perimeter security operations at both the Barbours Cut and Bayport Terminals, the authority received certification from ABS Quality Evaluations (ABS QE). Developed in response to demand from the industry for a security management standard, with an ultimate objective to improve the security of supply chains, ISO 28000:2007 specifies the requirements for a security management system, including those aspects critical to security assurance of all aspects of the business management.

The comprehensive, independent audit by ABS QE validated standards and procedures at the port, making sure that the port does a significant job of bringing the private and public sectors together and that it is on track with all security measures including more detailed and efficient monitoring and documentation, broader training of the port authority's police force and security partners and more efficient processing of vehicles through its gates. James T. Edmonds, chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Port of Houston Authority, says that achieving the standard brings a new level of awareness to be more sensitive to the port's own security initiatives. "This helps employees learn how to approach each day with right mindset and make sure our port operations are more sensitive to security," he says.

The port's security management system consists of an access control system from AMAG Technology, Torrance, Calif., CCTV from Pelco, Clovis, Calif., and CCTV with video analytics from Verint, Melville, N.Y. This system was modeled after the port's successful Environmental Management System (EMS), which allowed the port to attain ISO 14000 certification in 2002.

Achieving ISO 28000 is only the first part of the port's continual improvement process, which will lead to the eventual certification of all terminals, according to Edmonds. So far, two terminals are certified, and the port hopes to go through the same process for all 11 of its facilities.

For the port that moved more than 200 million tons of cargo in 2006, Edmonds looks forward to the benefits of being certified. "We want to help other American ports achieve the same goal. And that's a nice honor to be asked to do that," Edmonds says.

Situation Management in Virginia

Like many ports across the United States, the Virginia Port Authority made millions of dollars in security upgrades following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Federal grants enabled the port to invest $22 million to implement hundreds of new surveillance cameras, to add access control and other security elements to harden buildings determined to be part of its critical infrastructure, to install cameras and sensors along 10 miles of fence line and to build a critical command center.

The need to monitor all of these security systems and devices, which spanned three different marine terminals -- Norfolk International Terminals, Newport News Marine Terminal and Portsmouth Marine Terminal -- prompted the Virginia Port Authority to pursue an additional $3 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for additional upgrades.

"Now that we had made the investment, my whole intent was to maximize what these systems were telling us," says Ed Merkle, Virginia Port Authority's director of port security and emergency operations. "It's critically important, from a security perspective, to know how that breach occurred. Was it an intentional breach in security or was it an accident?"

Merkle also had to transition the port from using security as a deterrent to using security proactively. It was important to identify a hole in a fence immediately after the incident occurred instead of having a security officer locate it hours or days later, only to have to pull up old surveillance video to pinpoint what happened.

The need to make a significant change in how it handles security prompted the Virginia Port Authority to implement Situator, a security and safety Situation Management software for integrated control rooms, from Orsus, New York.

With Situator, the Virginia Port Authority can integrate existing security systems to be managed and monitored in a single, software-based platform. Using the software and a visual interface, the port can view a map of its facilities and locations of each security device, identify a security incident as it happens and follow proper steps and procedures, such as pulling up additional surveillance video to view a situation, dispatching a security officer to further investigate an incident or notifying superiors of a major incident.

Situator also enables the port to tie in new systems it might implement in the future and supports C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) compliance.

These capabilities were key for the Virginia Port Authority, which built a new command and control center at its terminal in Norfolk to monitor the events at its facilities. Beyond the ability to manage its security systems, Situator also enables the port to effectively manage its team of 87 police officers spread out at three locations.

"For a breach of security, if someone jumps a fence, the dispatcher had to go from a hardcopy manual or from memory on who to contact and when," says Capt. Mike Brewer of the Virginia Port Authority Police Department. "Situator does that for us. It's a good checklist, and with this, we have the electronic documentation of the events that occurred and the ability to provide a report, which goes into our files."

Technology on the Horizon

Ensuring that no one tampers with cargo containers is an ongoing concern of port security, and one to which emerging technology is offering a new approach.

A Portsmouth, N.H.-based non-profit organization called NI2 -- short for National Infrastructure Institute -- has been working with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., to commercialize technology that protects cargo containers from tampering.

"The laboratory developed the technology for the government and now wants to transfer it to the commercial market," says Don Bliss, director of NI2 and a retired New Hampshire state fire marshal.

Called ultra wide-band radar, the technology is housed in a box that resides inside a cargo container. The radar emissions form a bubble that encompasses the container. The device detects changes inside the container by analyzing changes in the bubble. Data is sent by radio to a monitoring station.

"The device can detect when and where someone opened the door of the container as well as whether someone had drilled a hole in it, removed a side panel and tampered with something inside," Bliss says.

While protecting each of tens of millions of containers with tens of millions of these boxes sounds expensive, Bliss believes the cost is reasonable. "We have gotten the price of commercial production down to about $100 per container per trip," he says.

The technology includes sensors that measure environmental changes inside the container to weed out false-positives. Suppose, for example, that the radar detects changes in the radar bubble indicating that the door to the container had swung open. If it really happened, the temperature inside the container would change. But if the temperature sensor inside the container detected no change, then the event would be considered a false positive.

Another sensor inside the container monitors G-forces or the shaking and rattling of the container. Livermore developed an algorithm capable of comparing the G-force readings with data from the radar device enabling the system to distinguish between shifting cargo and cargo tampering.

NI2 and the laboratory proved the technology in a series of tests on containers carrying live shipments. Two tasks still remain: directing the data to various law enforcement agencies and creating the policies and procedures for responding to an alarm.

"This is a cooperative effort between the public and private sectors," Bliss says. "It involves the shippers, ports and a number of law enforcement agencies: the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, state police in various states, Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and other groups."

NI2 set up a secure Web site where each of the participating groups can log in and view the information being transmitted.

A clearinghouse is also being established to evaluate the information, weed out remaining false-positives and forward alarm data to the appropriate parties. To avoid sending the information to the wrong party and causing confusion, when an alarm goes off, the system will inform all of the agencies in the loop.

"But the policies and procedures will clearly define responsibilities and protocols for everyone," Bliss says. "If the container is at sea, the Coast Guard will know that the problem is theirs to deal with. Everyone else will know that the Coast Guard is in charge.

"If the container is on a truck moving along a highway, the state police in that state will know that it is their responsibility and so on."

The next step, being worked out now, is to plan what to do when, say, an alarm suggests that a container at sea has been tampered with and is now emitting nuclear radiation.

That has proven complicated. The Coast Guard cannot just stop the ship and take possession of the container. Because a single ship carries thousands of containers, the problem container will probably be buried deep in the ship. To get at it, the ship will have to put into port and be unloaded.

But which port? A problem container can't be taken to a major port. Smaller ports won't allow the ship to dock. The port that loaded the container won't take it back.

According to Bliss, the final report on the project, due out within a few months will recommend policies and procedures that deal with these kinds of problems.

Larry Anderson, Stephanie Silk and Michael Fickes contributed to this report. Material was also supplied by Rafi Bhonker, vice president of marketing for Orsus.


HERE IS HOW some of the ports are benefiting from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant money:

* The Port of Anchorage in Anchorage, Alaska, will make additional improvements to its new security command center with $207,000 in federal grant money. The funds will pay for an enhanced emergency radio system, additional surveillance cameras, a fiber optic backbone for the video network and emergency power back up.

* The Department of Homeland Security is tripling its funding for Maryland port security, increasing it from $2 million to $6.6 million. Most of the grant money will pay for a video surveillance system at the port that is stalled past its projected launch date of last year. Grant money will also go toward helping private terminals buy security cameras that link up with the port's public system, software improvements that offer better monitoring of cargo and workers through the port, training for law enforcement officers and improved radio communication and data sharing among agencies.

* Several of Maine's municipalities will receive portions of some $1.7 million that the state received in port security grants from the Department of Homeland Security. A little more than $1 million will go to Portland, $485,000 will go to Bar Harbor, a port expected to see more than 100 cruise ships visit by this fall and $63,000 will go to the Eastport Port Authority.

* The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority in Ohio has received $1.9 million in federal grants for new security systems at Toledo's 19 waterfront terminals including security cameras, lighting and associated hardware, and the other for a card-reader identification system. An $896,000 surveillance project will include new lighting and 30 to 40-foot towers for the cameras to deter criminal and potential terrorist activity.

* The Panama City Port in Florida has received a $1.6 million grant to improve security. "This funding will provide the City of Panama City the opportunity to strengthen security around Port Panama City so that they can continue transporting goods in and out of our port safely," says Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Monticello.

* A total of $779,044 will be used to enhance security and response capabilities of the facilities at the Port of Milwaukee. When applying for the grant, the port requested to provide for an all-season maritime response and rescue capability, and to fund a full-scale emergency response exercise in 2009.

* In a $6.6 million grant Missouri received, the Kansas City area received $1.6 million for infrastructure protection. The money will be used mainly for security at the Missouri River Port. The St. Louis port area will get a $2.6 million grant, to be disbursed by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.

* The West Virginia Public Port Authority in Huntington has received nearly $2.4 million in Port Security Grant Program money. The focus is on preventing, protecting against, responding to and recovering from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.

* The Port of Brunswick in Georgia is getting a $610,000 federal grant to upgrade security and make other improvements, and the Port of Savannah will receive about $5.3 million for security enhancements. The Brunswick grant will help pay for improved surveillance and communications capabilities and for enhancing data communications between it and the port of Savannah.

* The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been awarded more than $45 million -- making it the largest amount given out to any single entity in the country.

* Louisiana will receive $38.3 million for its ports, with $30.8 million going to the New Orleans Port area -- encompassing New Orleans, South Louisiana, Baton Rouge, St. Bernard Parish and Plaquemines Parish. Other Louisiana port recipients include Lake Charles, receiving $4.1 million, and Port Fourchon/LOOP, receiving $3 million.

* The Port of Mobile, Ala., has received $3 million from the federal government to beef up port security. The plan for grant money use is being crafted by the U.S. Coast Guard's Area Maritime Security Committee and will focus on "closing security gaps," including the need of counterterrorism training for employees.

* Houston-Galveston has been awarded a total of $32.2 million to strengthen its port security. These funds will help local officials in Houston-Galveston prioritize prevention and protection, information collaboration, communication resources and regionally-based security cooperation.