A Port In The Storm

Maritime regulations and security systems have changed rapidly since 2001

In 2011, U.S. imports of manufactured goods exceeded $2 trillion and exports reached approximately $1.3 trillion, reflecting an annual growth of more than 15 percent from 2010.

A significant portion of this trade is handled by our waterways. From ocean carriers, cruise lines, port facilities and terminals to logistics providers, importers and exporters, ensuring smooth operations by efficiently securing and protecting our vast maritime industry is of utmost importance—not only to the individual organizations but also to our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In the maritime industry, detection and quick response to crime and terrorism is key to the welfare of our citizens and economy.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. government implemented several regulations to better protect the nation’s maritime industries. Alongside these regulations, several advanced security systems are available to help organizations leverage the latest technologies to protect their employees, tenants, facilities and cargo. Let’s take a closer look at what regulations and laws have been deployed, as well as the latest security solutions an organization could install to help meet stringent regulations and protect against catastrophic events.

Understanding the Regulations

Keeping our vast waterways and seaports safe and secure is no simple task. The U.S. Coast Guard’s primary responsibility is to secure our three main maritime activities: port, vessel and facility. Some of the principle laws that support USCG’s mission include:

  • The Espionage Act of 1917, which empowered USCG to make regulations to prevent damage to harbors and vessels during national security emergencies.
  • As result of the “Red Scare,” the Magnuson Act of 1950 provided permanent port security regulations and broad powers to search vessels in U.S. waters and control the movement of foreign vessels in U.S. ports.
  • The Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972, which was passed due to several major groundings and oil spills, provided port safety authority beyond the Magnuson Act to protect the use of port transportation facilities, and to enhance efforts against the degradation of the marine environment.
  • The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, or MTSA, enacted as a result of 9/11, provided sweeping new authorities for preventing acts of terrorism within the U.S. maritime domain.
  • The International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, 2002, was adopted by the International Maritime Organization as new provisions to the International Convention for SOLAS to enhance maritime security.

In additional to these regulations enforced by USCG, there have been other security provisions introduced by Congress to improve overall security measures. The creation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program ensures that a tamper-resistant biometric credential for maritime workers must be obtained in order to access secure port facilities and other vessels. In order to gain a TWIC, workers must provide their biographic and biometric information—such as fingerprints—and successfully pass a security threat assessment conducted by the Transportation Security Administration.

With this regulation in place, government agencies and organizations can verify the identification of authorized individuals and enhance the security of facilities by minimizing the risk of unauthorized staff and visitors gaining access to secure areas.

Finally, there have been many grants issued by Congress and administered by the Department of Homeland Security to aid transportation infrastructure security efforts. One such grant is the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), which outlines a comprehensive set of measures to strengthen the nation’s critical infrastructure against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks. The PSGP provides grant funding to port areas for the protection of critical infrastructure and to deter terrorism. Ports across the United States are taking advantage of grants like this to help make investments in technology to deploy robust and cutting-edge security infrastructures.

Taking Security to the Next Level

Since 9/11, there are more stringent regulations on protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure. Ports rely on training and exercises and advancements in technology to assist in enhancing maritime domain awareness and risk management capabilities to prevent, detect, respond to and recover from attacks involving improvised explosive devices and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear explosives and other non-conventional weapons.

By leveraging a comprehensive video surveillance platform, port authorities can benefit from a more proactive, effective approach to managing large, geographically distributed operations. Using powerful, fully integrated video management software will provide more efficient operations and lower the total cost of ownership over time. With limited staff and expansive perimeters, ports need to rely on the bestin- breed software to pinpoint events of interest. Having a video management software suite that captures video, analyzes data and provides a platform for sharing details among government agencies is paramount.

Additionally, many ports are dependent on video analytics. Integrated video analytics enhance situational awareness and transform threat detection from a manual, resource-intensive operation to an accurate and automated process. For example, when an intruder enters a restricted area, video analytics can quickly detect that a virtual tripwire has been crossed, and the video system can automatically send alerts and related video to the appropriate security staff while repositioning PTZ cameras to capture the intruder’s activity.

Port authorities also are leveraging powerful integrated video solutions, such as physical information management systems (PSIM), to rapidly detect potential problems and emergency situations, notify the appropriate agencies and first responders, and initiate effective action. By deploying a PSIM solution, port authorities can collect and analyze data from various systems and sensors such as radar, video-based perimeter protection, ALPR and more, creating a holistic approach to security management. Leveraging the combined data, port authorities can easily share and connect with multiple agencies (e.g., port security, police and fire departments) to provide them with access to the information along with pre-defined workflows for escalation and a response mechanism for certain anticipated security and safety scenarios. A PSIM solution fuels more effective incident management through four distinct functions:

Planning. The PSIM solution should enable organizations to plan security layouts, develop policies and procedures and evaluate contingency plans. The PSIM solution also should allow users to run virtual threat scenarios. Additionally, 3-D geospatial site representations are extremely useful in helping security managers determine optimal placement of security equipment.

Training. The PSIM solution should offer a unified security interface and simulations of realistic security situations for training security personnel and other staff to improve emergency preparedness.

Real-time monitoring and control. The PSIM solution should seamlessly correlate data from a multitude of security sensors and systems, providing an integrated, real-time view of activity and related information: for example, incident alerts, the type of incident and its location, the closest hospitals and the driving route from the incident to the hospital to assist first responders.

Reporting and debriefing. The PSIM solutions should provide complete incident information—including what transpired and how staff reacted—for improving the organization’s ability to handle future incidents.

By consolidating security system planning and monitoring and providing standard operating procedures, simulations and reporting, PSIM systems enable ports to improve the speed, efficiency and intelligence of responses while reducing costs and minimizing compliance risks.

IP cameras are important to port facilities because they provide visual cues as to what activities are happening in various locations. Being able to pull multiple streams of video at different frame rates provides organizations with increased situational awareness to more promptly and effectively respond to threats. Additionally, comprehensive video management software applications provide automatic camera detection and configuration, centralized administration and management, and automated, system-wide camera health monitoring, diagnostics and alerts. With a wide array of fixed, PTZ dome, PTZ, vandal-proof and outdoor IP camera options available on the market, IP cameras have become a costeffective option for security systems.

Although IP video software provides live viewing, recording, and retrieval of video, some organizations are turning to more advanced NVR platforms that can offer simultaneous viewing of multiple cameras, as well as multiple recording modes. Versatile NVRs help capture high-quality video images and interface with a variety of security and business systems. This interoperability provides organizations with a more complete view of remote events and operations and serves as a time-saving approach to security and operational efficiency.

Using NVRs to capture camera feeds is not enough. It is important to find corresponding video management software that enables system integrators and security operators to centrally configure, view, manage and monitor the functioning of NVRs enterprise-wide. By simplifying video system administration and viewing, these software applications can help reinforce operational standards and uniformity in dispersed operations, enabling a more proactive, efficient approach to security.

All of these technology solutions offer security professionals and port facilities the ability to monitor facilities 24/7 in real time and to proactively safeguard critical areas, assets and resources.

A Real-Time Look at Port Security

The Port of Los Angeles encompasses 7,500 acres, 43 miles of waterfront and 27 cargo terminals. Safeguarding miles of waterfront and multiple land-based facilities can be a daunting task, and prior to 2006, the port operated with only a few analog cameras across its expansive grounds.

Leveraging funding from the Port Security Grant Program, officials designed a new security system that would upgrade a disparate system into an integrated solution. After an extensive evaluation process, the organization selected the Nextiva IP video portfolio from Verint Video Intelligence Solutions, including Nextiva VMS, integrated analytics, encoders/decoders and wireless devices. In order to successfully implement the new security platform, the port worked in phases to deploy the most important elements first.

The IP video solution integrates with more than 350 cameras from thirdparty manufacturers to monitor highly critical areas. Captured data is then transmitted to a state-of-the-art threat detection center for central monitoring. Today, the port secures its expansive waterfront and perimeters by creating custom detection rules with analytics that secure tangible and virtual perimeters or borders.

From 2007 to 2008, port police implemented geographic information system (GIS) technology in support of its security initiatives. Integrated with VMS and third-party cameras, port officials are able to leverage enterprise GIS so that staff in the threat detection center can pinpoint locations of their first responders in the field while having a complete view of activities.

In the final phase, the port searched for a solution that would support field personnel in responding to real-time emergency situations and provide the right information to the right people at the right time. In 2010, the port deployed an integrated third-party solution that delivers clear transmission of high-quality images to any authorized smartphone or handheld computer. This innovative solution ensures that an officer can view real-time images being shared between the field and the threat detection center.

For the Port of Los Angeles, central monitoring at the threat detection center, combined with the use of innovative technology, enhances situational awareness around its properties and transforms what used to be a manual, resource-intensive operation into an efficient, accurate and automated process.

Shipshape Security Operations

Worldwide port and maritime operations and their associated facilities and infrastructure collectively represent one of the single greatest unaddressed challenges to the security of nations and the global economy today. From their geographically dispersed facilities and stringent government regulations to the threat of terrorism and movement of cargo over land and water, ports remain vulnerable and require strategic initiatives.

Technology alone cannot secure ports and shipping, nor can adding additional security procedures, physical barriers or additional manpower fully mitigate the risk. What will work is an integrated, carefully planned approach that incorporates the best elements of technical, physical, procedural and information security disciplines into a comprehensive strategy.

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of Security Today.


  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    Perimeter Security Standards for Multi-Site Businesses

    When you run or own a business that has multiple locations, it is important to set clear perimeter security standards. By doing this, it allows you to assess and mitigate any potential threats or risks at each site or location efficiently and effectively. Read Now

  • Getting in Someone’s Face

    There was a time, not so long ago, when the tradeshow industry must have thought COVID-19 might wipe out face-to-face meetings. It sure seemed that way about three years ago. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • ISC West
  • ISC West 2024 is a Rousing Success

    The 2024 ISC West security tradeshow marked a pivotal moment in the industry, showcasing cutting-edge technology and innovative solutions to address evolving security challenges. Exhibitors left the event with a profound sense of satisfaction, as they witnessed a high level of engagement from attendees and forged valuable connections with potential clients and partners. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • ISC West
  • Live From ISC West: Day 2

    What a great show ISC West 2024 has been so far. The second day on Thursday was as busy or even more hectic than the first. Remember to keep tabs on our Live From ISC West page for news and updates from the show floor at the Sands Expo, because there’s more news coming out than anyone could be expected to keep track of. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • ISC West

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • Mobile Safe Shield

    Mobile Safe Shield

    SafeWood Designs, Inc., a manufacturer of patented bullet resistant products, is excited to announce the launch of the Mobile Safe Shield. The Mobile Safe Shield is a moveable bullet resistant shield that provides protection in the event of an assailant and supplies cover in the event of an active shooter. With a heavy-duty steel frame, quality castor wheels, and bullet resistant core, the Mobile Safe Shield is a perfect addition to any guard station, security desks, courthouses, police stations, schools, office spaces and more. The Mobile Safe Shield is incredibly customizable. Bullet resistant materials are available in UL 752 Levels 1 through 8 and include glass, white board, tack board, veneer, and plastic laminate. Flexibility in bullet resistant materials allows for the Mobile Safe Shield to blend more with current interior décor for a seamless design aesthetic. Optional custom paint colors are also available for the steel frame. 3

  • ResponderLink


    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3

  • Compact IP Video Intercom

    Viking’s X-205 Series of intercoms provide HD IP video and two-way voice communication - all wrapped up in an attractive compact chassis. 3