Security for Ports of the Future



Professor Luca Urciuoli, MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, Boston, US


Shipping is one of the biggest transport means moving about 80%-90% of the world trade and that has experienced an increased demand from supply chain actors. In particular, the increasing world’s real GDP coupled with the globalization trend that aims to move manufacturing facilities abroad in low-cost countries, i.e. India, China and other developing countries, has had a strong impact on the growth of the shipping industry.

As experts in supply chain security claim, increasing flows of goods are attractive targets for criminal groups. The same can be said for the maritime sector, where intentional illicit actions against maritime vessels and port terminals have been increasing in the last few years. Attacks are perpetrated on a global scale and include theft, pilferage, armed robberies, smuggling, piracy, and so forth.

Containerized cargo is particularly targeted by criminals and results in theft or smuggling by simply breaking into containers while they are moved on vessels or stored at port terminals. Apart from theft, the shipping industry is also exposed to smuggling and therefore law enforcement agencies typically link maritime security to terrorism, drug smuggling, stowaways, human trafficking, and piracy.

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