PORT SECURITY: Status Report since 9/11

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
This article focuses on the necessity to craft an effective network system while meeting the government's objectives in the basic rules for security and surveillance of Ports throughout America. This approach explores, from a programmatic perspective, the notion that dealing with the safety issues facing Homeland Security can be successfully accomplished only if technology interconnects the various agencies defending our Ports. It should be noted that system integration can be achieved with technology that exists today, incorporating wireless and broadband services through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to which all United States Administrators of Defense will have access. Defense budgeting with the intent to fight terrorism is here to stay. The monies are available to private defense companies with a high demand for state-of-the-art technology. Whether proactive or defensive, President Bush enacted Homeland Security, and every agency dealing with the Maritime Administration, F.A.A., U.S. Customs, F.B.I. or Immigration, Defense, Local Fire and Police has the need to communicate with each other. As of this date, government agencies are seeking centralization platforms for interconnectivity desperate for interactive cross patterns of planning. The objective is protection. And, this requires a plan. The interesting part of the relationship between Homeland Security and private corporations is that in order to comply with the provisions of the Government's Security goals, private enterprise must also comply with the security requirements in the as-yet- undetermined system integration network. This means that "agency" response to terrorism needs to have rapid response in order to be mission critical. If the safety of America follows the example of the U.S.S. Cole, the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings, the bombing of U.S. Agencies or the hijacking of planes and the judication of Ports, the U.S. remains vulnerable. A sound course of action proposed by leading security and surveillance companies that deploy and implement large scale security applications is to begin to build a plan to achieve compliance based upon technology. U.S. Senator Ernest (Fritz) Hollings (S.C., D), Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has stated that the security holes at U.S. Ports could potentially expose the United States to catastrophic destruction. Norman Mineta, Secretary of Transportation, has noted that the U.S. Coast Guard, which plays a critical role in the protection of U.S. ports, "desperately" needs additional resources. A recent U.S. intelligence report cites that security at Russian nuclear facilities is improving, but it also warns that Russian nuclear authorities may not be adapting to meet the latest security threats. The report contends that while secure from traditional threats, Russian nuclear facilities are not designed to counter the "pre-eminent" threat faced currently: insiders who steal weapons-grade materials. Can this happen in America? Port and Maritime Security Act Senator Robert Graham (Fla., D) and Senator Fritz Hollings (S.C., D) introduced the "Port and Maritime Security Act" of 2001, which would mandate that all U.S. ports create a comprehensive security plan. Designed to minimize risk and curtail vulnerability, the plan calls for limiting terminal and port facility access to authorized personnel, initiating background checks on people with access to secure areas and restricting firearms. Internationally and nationally, the general intent of the bill establishes a program to identify port security risks, conduct port security vulnerability assessments and implement port security standards. U.S. Coast Guard Actions Secretary Mineta has requested authority permitting the U.S. Coast Guard to stop and inspect ships within 12 miles of U.S. shores. Under existing law, the Coast Guard can board ships within a three-mile perimeter. While acknowledging that security of ports is crucial, he said, "We must look beyond ports and port facilities and embrace the entire marine transportation system." To address these concerns, he continued, "Maritime security measures must be fully integrated with security measures being implemented in other modes of transportation." U.S. Customs Actions The Container Security Initiative (CSI) consists of four core elements: • Establishing security criteria to identify high-risk containers; • Pre-screening containers before they arrive at U.S. ports; • Using technology to pre-screen high-risk containers; and • Developing and using smart and secure containers. The fundamental objective of the CSI is to first engage the ports that send the highest volumes of container traffic into the United States, as well as the governments in these locations, in a way that will facilitate detection of potential threats at their earliest possible opportunity. Video surveillance systems, as well as wireless integrated protocols sending information along a broadband network to Customs officials, facilitate a more complete and rapid deployment of security. Coordination Among Agencies As a proactive means to address concerns raised regarding U.S. Port security, General Defense Systems, Inc. (GDS) will implement invitation-only workshops entitled, "Project Awareness." The workshops will identify potential threats, counter measures to be deployed and lay the groundwork for a viable implementation plan and ultimately contracts for Systems Integration and Operation of the Port Security Systems. GDS has been awarded "Unique Bidder" status by the U.S. Government. The first series of workshops is planned for Miami, Boston and New York during Q3 and Q4 of 2002. Immediate Access and Rapid Response Immediate access to the various port entranceways has been a significant concern for U.S. security. Foreign ports hold the same fears. The U.S.S. Cole bombing is a perfect example of what could be avoided, as well as contained. A deployed integrated security system would have alerted officials of a security breach to the Cole, facilitating a rapid response and injury prevention. Coordination with Local Fire and Rescue On a local level, the rapid response of local fire and police forces would also save lives and limit damage. It is the coordination of efforts in planning between and among the local agencies and government agencies that could create the greatest degree of safety, as well as protection. In order for Homeland Security to have far-reaching and long-lasting benefits, the government must provide defense services that would also be covered under the many different budgets arising post-September 2001. The Senate has introduced S.R. 1214; the Congress is considering H.R. 3013. Both bills appropriate dollars for security especially for Maritime and Port requirements. Freedom and security are engaged through the combined communication of Port Authorities (U.S. Customs, U.S. Coast Guard and Homeland Security), as well as the support of politicians identifying their constituents' needs and voting for allocations of funds to bring our national defense into the 21st century. Law enforcement agencies and Response Teams are rapidly deployed when acts of terrorism affect Americans. Through the implementation of comprehensive surveillance systems, a national coordinated effort between and among these agencies will allow rapid deployment and immediate access to any injured site. The protection of U.S. Ports currently relies upon commercial applications available on the market today. But what is needed is a combination of technology and insight to set up protocols to review the issues associated with Port Security and to provide our unique technological-required solutions.

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