Threat Detection and Recognition

By Michelle Howard
Monday, June 02, 2014
Courtesy of Arena

Trucks, trains, ships and oil rigs are all potential targets for criminal organizations.

Organizations that own, use or transport high value assets recognise the need to protect their goods and employees, especially when they are at their most vulnerable - when in remote or isolated situations, at night and when operating alone. By their very nature, trucks, trains, ships and oil rigs are all potential targets for criminal organisations. Furthermore, monitoring systems, early warning and deterrent technology have not been available to address this need at a remotely affordable cost. As a result, there has been an uneasy acceptance that in certain parts of the world, piracy, hijacking or theft are facts of commercial life. However, a refusal to accept this situation has helped to push this issue to the top of the EU agenda.  

Maria Andersson, at FOI, the Swedish Defence Research Agency and Technical Co-ordinator for ARENA explains the challenges in protecting high value assets on both land and at sea.  She describes how the basis for a solution to the problem has been developed through the ARENA (Architecture for Recognition of thrEats to mobile assets using Networks of Affordable sensors) research & development project which is part-funded by the European Commission's FP7 Security Research Program. Dr. Andersson explains how the generic surveillance system that has been developed could provide robust, proactive threat detection and recognition, while being able to differentiate between real threats and false alarms across a range of environments using an affordable system of sensors.

Pirates, highwaymen and train robbers may all sound faintly quaint and old fashioned, but anyone involved in the transport industry will tell you that their modern counterparts are as big a threat as they ever were. There is every sign that they will remain so, as long as goods and vehicles remain vulnerable when on the move and isolated. While the threat looms large, the technology installed on vehicles to detect potential security breaches remains crude in comparison to that now becoming available for static deployment.

A ship, a lorry or a train is often highly secure while in a port or depot, being physically protected and under close surveillance, but once outside they are a relatively soft target for bands of organized and often dangerous criminals. The theft of high value, high risk products in transit cost businesses over €8.2 billion a year, according to recent European Union figures. Since the terrorist attacks on New York on September 11th 2001 the threat of terrorism has also loomed large over the transport sector. Oil rigs' isolation means they face similar threats.

Terror organizations may engage in theft to fund their operations or they may see it as an end in itself, potentially disrupting, destroying or capturing vehicles containing hazardous or dangerous materials such as chemical liquids, gas, or radioactive material. After the September 11th attacks the United Nations agreed proposals to enhance the security of dangerous goods in transport. Terror organizations have demonstrated their willingness to target mass transportation networks along with other areas of critical infrastructure.

Over 70 per cent of all goods transported in the EU are transported using road haulage, a transport method which carries one of the highest risks of being victim of criminal activity. Truck thieves generally steal the whole vehicle or break into trailers to take the contents, sometimes cutting panels and causing other costly damage to gain access. Drivers too are vulnerable to attack and theft. The most common place for a truck to be attacked is at an unguarded parking lot while the driver is asleep. Large cities, like London and Madrid are the biggest hot spots, but countries like Belgium also have a problem. In the UK alone, 324,000 crimes were recorded against the transport and storage sector in 2012.

The threat is equally pressing at sea as it is on land. Modern day piracy has presented a significant challenge since civil war broke out in Somalia in the early 1990s with an upsurge in recent years posing a threat to critical maritime infrastructure. There were no fewer than 49 piracy incidents in the first quarter of 2014 according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), an offshoot of the International Chamber of Commerce focussed on fighting maritime crime. Two of these vessels were hijacked, 37 boarded and five fired on board. Five more attempted attacks were reported. There were 12 reports off the Africa's west coast, including the hijacking of two vessels with 39 crew taken hostage and two kidnapped.

Security on the move

The impossibility of securing all main roads, rivers and open seas means the ships, trucks and trains they convey need to be equipped to detect threats themselves. Advance warning offers the chance to evade, deter or repel an intruder.

A European Commission-backed research project called ARENA, short for Architecture for Recognition of thrEats to mobile assets using Networks of Affordable sensors, has attempted to deliver a solution which could work in a wide range of transport scenarios. There are currently no affordable early warning or deterrent technologies to address the threat.

FOI, the Swedish Defence Research Agency, co-ordinated the seven-strong research partnership drawn from five EU countries. FOI's partners were: Leading international maritime design and engineering company, BMT Group; ITTI, an IT company from Poland; hi-tech firm SAFRAN Sagem Défense Sécurité of France; electronic security company SAFRAN MORPHO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO); and the University of Reading, in the UK.

The project is coming to a close next month at the end of its three-year lifespan. Over that time the project sought to investigate a system applicable to a range of different deployments: stationary platforms relative to the land, such as a truck or train stop; stationary platforms relative to the sea, such as ships in port or oil rigs; mobile platforms relative to land, such as trucks or trains in transit; and mobile platforms relative to the sea, such as ships at sea or oil rig support vessels.

Its research built on existing work on the surveillance of public spaces. No new sensor development was done. Instead, the team focussed on exploiting existing, low-cost sensor technologies like visual and infra-red video, acoustic sensors, seismic sensors and radar. It also built on other work, such as the Integrated Mobile Security Kit where a multi-sensor surveillance system is installed in a van which can be brought to public space when needed. Another contributing technology, known as ADABTS (Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in crowded Spaces), addresses automatic detection of abnormal human behaviour that might signal crime is afoot. And another, called SECTRONIC, is a 24-hour small area surveillance system for maritime application.

ARENA also aimed to minimize nuisance the system might cause if it were to go off for no reason. Humans are naturally good at putting together lots of fragmentary information and signals and spotting what is a threat and what is not. Machines on the other hand are not. The ARENA system combined complementary sensors to reduce false alarm rates. The threat-detection task was also broken down into four interconnected steps: object detection, object tracking; event recognition; and threat recognition. The fewer the bystanders to the vehicle, the easier the system could interpret what is going on, meaning that it would be easier to detect a threat in a quiet railway siding than when standing by a busy platform. For the same reason, trains may, on the whole, prove easier to protect than trucks, which often park in places where there is innocent foot traffic.

The project also tackled the sensitive legal and ethical issues involved in surveillance and electronic security, particularly those revolving around privacy. It will be crucial to have the consent of the driver for any camera system which secures a vehicle on the basis of facial recognition. Facial recognition cameras were only used in the cab of a vehicle, so presented no challenge in respect of the privacy of passers-by.

ARENA's innovative combination of existing surveillance technology provides autonomous monitoring and situational awareness of the environment surrounding critical mobile assets, alerting personnel to threats. In achieving this goal it has the potential to fill the yawning security gap between harbours, depots and garages, currently a cash cow for criminals and potentially a loophole exploited by terrorists.

There has been an uneasy acceptance that piracy, hijacking and thefts are facts of commercial life, particularly when trading in some parts of the world. But a growing refusal to accept this situation has helped to put the issue to the top of the EU agenda. ARENA may signal the beginning of a fundamental shift in the balance of power away from criminals, improving the safety of transport personnel and ultimately, cutting costs for everyone.

 


Offshore

Russian Shipbuilder Signs $1 bln Oil Rigs Contract with Iran

Russian shipbuilder Krasnye Barrikady and Iran's Tasdid Offshore Development Company (TODC)  have signed a deal worth $1 billion to build five offshore drilling

STX to Slash Jobs, Sell Yard

To stat above water by restructuring, South Korean Shipbuilder STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co. plans to lay off about a third of its workforce and sell a yard in France, says a report in WSJ.

Onshore Spending on the Cusp of Recovery?

DW’s recently released quarterly World Oilfield Services Market Forecast (OFS) and World Oilfield Equipment Market Forecast (OFE) continue to suggest 2016 will

Environmental

NParks, Keppel in S$2.08 mln Partnership for Restoring Singapore Forest Wetlands

The National Parks Board (NParks) and Keppel Corporation today unveiled plans for a partnership to restore the freshwater forest wetland ecosystem historically

C-Job Designs Flettner Freighter for Switijnk

The Dutch shipping company family Switijnk has contracted C-Job Naval Architects to develop a Rotor Sail-equipped design to meet their specific loading and sailing profile.

Vitol's Malaysia Terminal Suspends Ops after Spill

VTTI, the storage unit of world's largest oil trader Vitol, has suspended operations at its terminal in southern Malaysia following an oil spill, two industry sources said on Friday.

Maritime Security

Indian Warships Visit Port Victoria

In a demonstration of India’s commitment to its ties with Seychelles and maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region, Indian Naval Ships Kolkata, Trikand and

White House: Iranian Ships' Actions in Gulf Increase Risk of Miscalculation

Actions by Iranian vessels in several encounters with U.S. warships in the Gulf this week are cause for concern and increase risks of miscalculation, the White House said on Friday.

Australia Warns DCNS after Security Breach

Australian defence officials warned French naval contractor DCNS to beef up security in Australia, where it is preparing to build a A$50 billion ($38.13 billion) fleet of submarines,

News

Coast Guard Foundation Awarded 128 Scholarships

The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that

Keppel to Deliver First North Sea FPSO

Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M)'s wholly-owned subsidiary Keppel Shipyard Ltd (Keppel Shipyard) is on track to deliver a Floating Production Storage and Offloading

NASA May Send Submarine to Titan

NASA has unveiled plans to send a submarine into the depths of the largest ocean of Saturn's biggest moon, Titan in a bid to explore the depths of its largest ocean.

Maritime Safety

Indian Cargo Ship Sinks Off Oman

An Indian cargo ship loaded with vehicles and food supplies destined for Yemen sank on Saturday off the coast of Oman but without loss of life, Oman’s ONA state news agency reported.

Danish Maritime Authority Supports Maritime Cultural Days

The Danish Maritime Authority's buoy tender ’POUL LØWENØRN’ will be alongside in Korsør in connection with the Maritime Cultural Days. The vessel will be open to visitors throughout Saturday,

ABS Makes it Safer to ‘Walk to Work’

ABS announced the publication of The ABS Guide for Certification of Offshore Access Gangways. The new Guide addresses certification for safety systems used for “walk to work” (W2W) crew transfers.

Vessels

C-Job Designs Flettner Freighter for Switijnk

The Dutch shipping company family Switijnk has contracted C-Job Naval Architects to develop a Rotor Sail-equipped design to meet their specific loading and sailing profile.

Damen Trading Sale hits 500th Vessel

30 years and 500 vessels later, Damen Trading is just getting started. Damen Trading’s story begins in 1986, with Damen Shipyards Group responding to growing market demand for used vessels.

Matson Orders Two ConRo Ships from NASSCO

Matson Navigation Company, Inc., a subsidiary of container shipper Matson, Inc., has signed a contract with U.S. shipbuilder General Dynamics NASSCO to build two

Intermodal

Rickmers Holding, E.R. Capital Drop Merger Plan

Rickmers Holding AG and E.R. Capital Holding have jointly decided not to pursue the merger of their ship management activities.   For many years the companies

Hapag-Lloyd: UASC Merger Benefits to show in 2017

German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd expects to reap a third of targeted annual synergies of $400 million from the planned merger with Arab rival UASC already next year,

China COSCO Falls to H1 Net Loss

China COSCO Holdings Co Ltd fell to a first-half loss hurt by a persistent slump in the global container market, the world's fourth largest container shipper said on Thursday.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Simulators Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1976 sec (5 req/sec)