Stakeholders at the Port of Rotterdam will be able to participate in a new multi-user quantum network for communication across the area.
Q*Bird, a spinoff from QuTech (a research institute into quantum computing between TNO and TU Delft) is the first to deploy a new type of secure quantum network that can connect multiple users via a central hub.
The result is an untappable internet connection between users across the port area.
The central hub of the system will be situated at Port of Rotterdam Authority and will connect users to the port’s data sharing platform, Portbase, and two or three other maritime logistic companies that are based in the port of Rotterdam.
The setup enables connecting all end-users with a secure, untappable connection.
The first four end-users can be expanded later to many more. The users will share keys that are generated using quantum technology that they will use to encrypt messages using traditional technology.
The strength of this type of setup is the ease by which it can be expanded to many more users, and the relative low cost of expansion.
Upon completion, Portbase can be sure its communication line has not been tampered with while connecting with, for example, other port authorities.
Later in the project, end-users can connect to the system, such as third party customers, suppliers, and emergency services.
Securing the Port of Rotterdam’s communication systems, which are pivotal for the movement of around 15 million TEU yearly, will improve the safety of tens of thousands of sea ships yearly.
“Malignant tapping the communication systems between parties can lead to significant financial losses, disruption of critical business operation, or physical harm,” the port wrote in its release.
“A quantum communication infrastructure will ensure an untappable connection and will improve the logistics chains of which Rotterdam is a part of, even more so a vital infrastructure on the European continent.”
Previously a team of scientists and engineers at QuTech had demonstrated the alternative, untappable method for sending encrypted information. QuTech then launched its commercial product, Q*Bird.
“Our technology is based on a special implementation of quantum key distribution (QKD) that uses a central hub to connect users that want to exchange secure communications,” explained Q*Bird’s Co-Founder and Director Remon Berrevoets.
“That means that it is possible to implement a quantum network in a cost-effective way, scalable to many end-users, and using mostly off-the-shelf equipment.”
Funding for this project has been provided for two-thirds through the Quantum Delta NL SME programme and one-third by the Port of Rotterdam Authority.