Securing America's ports

the port deploys a sophisticated sonar system at narrow points that ships pass through to detect any changes or abnormalities underwater. It also deploys unmanned remote controlled submersible surveillance vehicles to detect underwater threats.

Long Beach has also deployed a military-grade radar system to detect all ships in the nearby vicinity. Cargo ships are required to carry transponders that identify the vessel and where it is located, while the radar has the capability to detect small craft that lack transponders.

With combining sonar and radar, we have coverage of a significant area of the approaches to the port,” said Cosmo Perrone, the director of security at the Port of Long Beach.

On the ground, the port is assisted by several federal agencies including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which is responsible for providing and operating inspection technologies. CBP focuses heavily on screening cargo containers using large non-intrusive x-ray devices that can quickly generate an image of what is inside each of the containers.

Patrick Simmons, director of the Non-Intrusive Inspection Technologies Division at CBP, explains, “It’s kind of like that game you played when you were a kid: ‘What Doesn’t Belong.’ So if the shipping manifest said ‘bowling balls’ and within the container you see round bowling ball, round bowling ball and then a dense square object, you would have to take a look at that and see what that dense object might actually be.”

CBP also operates radiation detection equipment, while the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Coast Guard assist in securing the facilities physical entry points.

Other security measures include a $3 million screening vessel that can scan the contents of a ship as it passes through the port, a radiation-detecting helicopter, and chemical weapons detecting canine teams.

With all these systems and security measures, the primary focus is to ensure that goods can pass through efficiently.

The cost-benefit analysis and the ability to keep the goods moving — that is, how do the security systems interfere with the movement of goods — is a major concern, so we’re always looking for those that allow the movement of goods to be uninterrupted,” Perrone said.

The ISC West conference will be held from 5 April to 8 April in Las Vegas, Nevada and is expected to draw more than 23,000 security professionals and 900 manufacturers from around the world. Its goal is to showcase upcoming technologies and services as well as educating security professionals on pertinent issues.

Seminars and discussion panels will cover topics ranging from wireless infrastructure surveillance to video analytics, security trends to risk management, and biometric access devices to cybersecurity on cloud computing networks.

ISC West is sponsored by the Security Industry Association which represents “the business interest of manufacturers, service providers, and integrators of electronic physical security equipment.”