Boeing Frontiers
October 2003
Volume 02, Issue 06
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Integrated Defense Systems

The Shipping News


IDS this fall will begin
demonstrating a security system
to help ensure the integrity of
the 6 million cargo containers
that annually enter the United
States by sea. At left, containers
are handled at Long Beach, Calif.

In Austria, a person with a suitcase holding 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) of depleted uranium boards a train headed for Hungary. If highly enriched, the uranium would be more than enough for a so-called "dirty bomb." In Hungary, officials check the passenger's passport but do not inspect the suitcase. The passenger then departs for Romania, through the Transylvanian Alps, across the fields of Bulgaria and into Istanbul, Turkey—all without even one inspection of the suitcase.

Workers then place the suitcase in a cargo container with vases and Turkish horse carts and load the container on a ship headed for the United States. American officials select the container for inspection but pass it without ever opening it. It's then loaded into a truck headed for New York City.

This is not a terrorist plot or the storyline to an action movie. This actually occurred as part of an ABC News investigation in July 2002 to see if American authorities could stop the shipment of radioactive material. The news organization conducted a similar test in August 2003. The depleted uranium was not highly enriched and was not dangerous. However, to the human eye or an X-ray scanner, it would look the same as a radioactive shipment. The test demonstrated important shortcomings in the customs screening process.

A terrorist attack using container cargo traffic would not only disrupt American lives and livelihoods but also severely disrupt the world's commerce trade system on which the global economy depends.

In June, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Homeland Security & Services was selected to demonstrate a cargo container security system through Operation Safe Commerce (OSC), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security initiative aimed at improving security of cargo entering commercial ports of entry in the United States. This fall, Boeing IDS will begin demonstrating its capabilities for the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey. This project leverages Boeing competencies in developing network-centric solutions and performing large-scale systems integration.

"We're pleased to have this opportunity to demonstrate to the Department of Homeland Security our integrated and comprehensive solution to securing the cargo container supply chain," said Rick Stephens, Boeing IDS vice president and general manager of Homeland Security & Services. "Our solution provides for the secure and efficient movement of goods on a global scale—from the manufacturer to a port of entry and on to retailers."

Nearly 95 percent of world freight moves by cargo containers. The U.S. Congress tasked the Department of Homeland Security with protecting the borders and "ensuring the speedy, orderly, and efficient flow of lawful traffic and commerce." OSC is designed to accelerate development and deployment of emerging technology to monitor the movement and ensure the integrity of containers that pass through U.S. ports and on to American highways and railways. This initiative is a vital step to provide security for the more than 6 million cargo containers that enter the United States by sea each year.

A heightened concern for immediate action has resulted in a short-term emphasis on seals with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags (e-seals) and readers. However, RFID technology alone provides only a part of the solution. The key to a comprehensive and flexible defense against terrorism within the transportation chain requires an end-to-end system.

IDS and its partners are integrating numerous advanced technologies to create a highly sophisticated and multilayered system that analyzes intelligence, detects and prevents terrorist threats, protects critical infrastructure and coordinates a response in the event of an emergency.

"Boeing has identified many 'best of industry practices' for developing and implementing large-scale solutions to issues that require the interaction of people, processes and technology," said Ron Maehl, vice president, Homeland Security & Services Network Enabled Solutions. "Port security requires a large-scale integrated solution utilizing information-gathering tools and technology, modeling and simulation, and network-centric operations. Because many organizations are involved, we must work together to protect not only our citizens but also the resources that make our economy strong and vibrant. The skills we have developed by integrating advanced systems for defense, space, intelligence and commercial customers are directly applicable to solving large, complex problems the United States faces in its homeland security mission."

As part of Boeing's network-enabled architecture, the proposed system will integrate physical security and monitoring all the way to the item level at the point of container loading with real-time, in-transit container information along the supply chain. The system also will perform ongoing data analyses, then produce and deliver reports to authorized government users and commercial clients. The software will score containers for risk level to allow for targeted container inspections.

This focuses inspection time and resources on highly suspect containers and minimizes shipment delays for containers that would likely not pose a risk. It greatly increases the ability of Homeland Security personnel to detect, quickly evaluate and decisively act against confirmed terrorist threats.

The system provides significant benefits to the Department of Homeland Security. It provides the tools to make intelligence on terrorist threats actionable and pattern recognition to detect potential threats before they enter the United States. In the event of an attack, the system will provide the forensics to determine and isolate specific system failures and allow for the restart of cargo movement to minimize damage to the U.S. economy.

For commercial participants, the system extends physical security capabilities that until now have been limited to facilities such as warehouses and distribution centers.

The system will incorporate physical security into critical points in the supply chain to validate, verify and remotely monitor goods from the point of origin to arrival at their final destination.

Boeing will fit containers with a redundant intrusion detection and reporting system and a wireless communication-transmitting device to provide periodic position and exception reporting. These features and technologies provide significant commercial benefits from areas such as enhanced inventory management, reduced losses due to theft, and compliance with stricter government security regulations, which should more than offset the increased costs.

"The urgency to secure our seaports grows stronger each day," Maehl said. "The safety of the global transportation network is a national security issue, and new systems design needs to take into account the complex procedures and diverse requirements of all stakeholders. The Boeing team continues to work with major U.S. shippers—large retailers and manufacturers—to refine the benefits, business value and priorities for this commercial-based solution.

"The United States must press its edge in technology to find and field solutions that secure the borders without busting the budget."


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