As port professionals, we live in interesting times where both ports and their security processes are changing rapidly. To quote the adage ‘you don’t need to be a weather man to see which way the wind blows’ is quite apt when describing the whirlwind changes that are taking place in the global ports industry. Recent news stories have highlighted the US$36 billion expansion plans of the Gulf Cooperation Council, with port infrastructure developments planned for Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Closer to home in the UK, a major new port facility has been introduced to the south of England while further expansions in the north are gearing up.
As ports look to develop, key consideration must be given to the port security infrastructure and how change can offer improvement. The world of technology now offers a host of products that can be implemented across a port security operation. Amongst these, a few wisely chosen solutions, effectively implemented, can provide savings and process improvements long into the future.
At G4S we have worked to continually investigate and trial new technology which can present benefits to port operators. With each solution we analysed, we became more convinced that the most effective way to manage security is by integrating all of the sometimes disparate activities that can make up a port security operation. We strongly feel that ports must consider the benefits that integrated port security can offer.
An integrated approach
All security processes within a port should integrate technology and manpower processes to ensure that best practice is promoted across the entire security function. This integrated approach will ensure that every component of the security operation responds effectively and works in unison to deliver unbeatable security coverage against threats and contraband.
A truly effective integrated security system, which uses the latest technology, must be built upon an effective systems management platform. Through the use of such a platform various processes, systems and manned guarding services can be effectively integrated under one system. Over the last few years, we worked to develop our own solution, which could be used to unite the various strands of a large port security operation.
We found that when this was combined with a suitable web-based information management platform it could help deliver the enhancement of operations across a port by allowing the analysis of operational data. The combination of these platforms, when used with the right technology, can form the foundation of an effective single security infrastructure, which can lead to immediate performance improvements.
An effective integrated approach should focus on every level of port security, from top to bottom. This is where opportunities to invest in the latest technological tools, such as intelligent CCTV, should not be ignored as the investment can offer considerable long term payback. Through technology, an integrated approach can also be used to support and improve the activities of the port operational personnel, in addition to the security function.
Let us consider how an integrated approach can help ports and their staff to deliver operational efficiency and real cost savings.
Better CCTV through integration
The latest high definition megapixel (HDMP) camera technology offers improved image quality and a truly intelligent CCTV solution. By providing wider area views than functional pan tilt zoom cameras (PTZ) and using digital zooms into specific areas, an unlimited number of analytic rules can be applied to each video. This ability to capture significantly more information than conventional analogue CCTV cameras immediately offers port operators an opportunity to reduce the number of CCTV cameras currently deployed on site by switching to HDMP.
By using an integrated system’s knowledge management capability raw images can be turned into intelligence. This can enable the ‘tagging and tracking’ of individuals and vehicles for real time and forensic monitoring, which will help port security personnel manage traffic flows and avoid bottlenecks. The system can also actively spot potential security breaches and improves customer service through the precise deployment of staff to where they are most needed.
This CCTV and video content analysis system was successfully deployed at numerous facilities at a major US port. Additional cameras were designed, built and integrated into the port’s current security system. The cameras were strategically placed, providing a higher level of video protection to key areas within the port complex. In addition to expanding the video analytics system, G4S was able to add sensors and system monitoring capabilities to this versatile solution.
More effective solutions
An integrated approach can also be used to manage the physical access process at ports. A single security infrastructure can exploit access control and CCTVcapability, as well as integrating with intruder detection systems, to cover a variety of functions. This can include using biometric facial recognition systems to remotely grant access to people and vehicles, the enforcement of parking control, implementing counter-terrorist measures and making initial deployment risk assessments remotely and safely.
This process has also been implemented at several major ports around the world with statistical evidence showing reductions in labour management costs and deployment times, as well as guaranteeing the compliance of rotas to union labour rules and effectively matching labour skills to specific duties.