Mind the gap – taking a joined up approach



Jorge Martin, operations department, Noatum Ports, Valencia, Spain


We, the transportation industry and logistics community in general, have a chance to add value to society by turning supply chains into safe channels. Ensuring the protection of life and properties while we operate our facilities and assets is a must. To do that we need a great deal of commitment, imagination and smart technology, all combined in a perfect balance where people and networking also play an important role. The key is to bring these factors together in an intelligent way ensuring an uninterrupted flow of cargo and passengers.


Since the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) regulations came into force back in 2004, threats and scenarios have evolved that are significantly changing the shape of what we fight against without previous notice, as happens in many other industry fields. We simply cannot keep old schemes and make them last forever. So a continuous improvement approach becomes necessary, otherwise mistakes could prove much more costly than just financial damage.

Most of our management systems have been built under such a philosophy, and when we talk about security then life matters. Assessing, auditing and evaluating should not simply accept a desk job approach like providing a simple set of papers, stamps or certifications as the evidence that a system works. This would be lying to ourselves and it is an unacceptable practice.

Time and resources are always limited but even some governmental inspections do not go much further than that outer layer, obviously getting a very wrong or limited picture. The multiplicity of agencies existing in many EU states with an involvement in port security also contributes to a certain dispersion of duties and inaccurate follow-up.

If, on top of this, we stop to think about the number of different maritime security legislation and initiatives, sometimes with overlapping requirements, it looks like if port security is indeed a complex issue or a big challenge.


I am just back from the ‘Security Forum 2013’ event in Barcelona and I would say that there we witnessed evidence of huge improvements in the performance of gadgets and devices which already existed, such as CCTV and similar. We are seeing new generations of products that boost previous specifications, smaller, faster and more accurate, but in this text we will only comment on trends and new developments. We are starting to see more popular and real ‘intelligent video analysis’ systems, rather than simple ‘video sensor’ ones. The video sensor systems were often referred to as intelligent video analysis when in fact there were not, being only capable of triggering warnings based on very simple conditions or parameters. Features such as shape and face recognition are becoming more and more commonly implemented in modern systems. But there is no doubt that the word today is integration, of open systems into common platforms.

An emerging trend in surveillance, especially in big sites like industrial installations as ports, are the systems which replace the typical video walls and sets of screens existing in control rooms with an overhead view of the whole facility. Instead of looking at several screens, the security guard can have an overall view of the complex concentrated into a single picture, so that he can really focus on a comprehensive approach. These systems gathered alarm signals from several elements like physical barriers, cameras, sensors and they are displayed as a pop-up window overlapped with the general view, highlighting the violation of the pre-defined conditions. They are becoming more graphic and visual, user-friendly and attractive to look at, so that anybody outside the pure security surveillance world can understand what they are seeing without much effort. Also, the description of the subsequent logs generated can be shown together with the rest of the information, what remains is a documented evidence of a video recording or snapshot.

Remaining flexible

Variables and inputs from other parallel systems like intelling to work (ITW) are also starting to be integrated into these systems as a complementary function which helps to widen the kind of solutions they can deliver. The good thing about these systems is that they are quite flexible and different contour conditions can be defined depending on day to day business requirements. A pier which is temporarily dedicated to land passengers today, can be used for general cargo tomorrow. Container slots within the yard can suddenly be used for dangerous cargo instead of empties, and other similar changes of activities can be made as we go along. This virtually allows us to have a different system every day and enables us to even be more demanding in our definition of ‘pre-areas’ which will put us on alert well before the threat gets closer to our property.

Regarding pure hardware, once again, it is important to get this right first time. Making the right choices is important and we should not oversize in our equipment decisions, either in specifications or in quantity. More does not necessarily mean better, nor will the latest equipment immediately fit our particular needs. Still, very often the business benefits of the security investments remain unidentified and under-rated. We need advanced financial models that allow ports to conduct cost-benefit analyses against individual risk control options and allow investigating potential security and economic gains.


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