Advanced VMS and Analytics

Improving blockchain workflows for the shipping industry

The shipping industry is being tasked to improve productivity, increase speed of operations and mitigate risk from new and potentially devastating forms of attack from both external and internal potential threats.

To help alleviate these issues, new VMS solutions with intelligent analytics specifically designed for the shipping and logistics industries have been developed to provide invaluable data to fuel the relatively new blockchain trend. Blockchain is essentially an information filing system that stores encrypted data.

Wikipedia defines a blockchain as a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.”

A blockchain is managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively, and the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, requiring consensus of the network majority. Although blockchain records are not unalterable, blockchains may be considered secure by design.

Given the nature of its design, blockchain enables the creation of tamper-proof, highly robust databases which can be read and updated only by those with permission. This provides the shipping industry with a very precise, secure and comprehensive means of tracking and managing shipments from their point of origination through delivery to a final destination.

Intelligent Security Systems (ISS) is developing advanced VMS and analytics solutions specifically designed to supplement blockchain technology for the shipping and logistics industries.

The benefits include the accurate recognition of shipping container ISO codes to verify ownership, points of origin, intended destination and contents; as well as visual inspection of shipping containers to monitor for damage. With the ability to recognize license plate numbers and characters on shipping containers as well as train cars, analytics can accurately allow this data to be captured and merged together to ensure the selected transportation mode can be easily tracked and located in the event of a missing container.

It is important to ensure that when handling sensitive information or data there are robust cybersecurity measures being used. Logistic managers or custom officials can use a variety of technologies to ensure secure data processing:

  • Secure HTTPS connection to all cameras with tunneling both video and audio
  • Digital signature of all exported files using digital certificates to verify the authenticity and source of exported files
  • Encryption of all data stored on a secure server’s hard drives

Advanced visual inspection and analytics solutions help to eliminate manual errors through seamless integration with Terminal Operation Systems, facilitating data flow processing for seaport operations with blockchain backbone. They are also ideally suited for implementation at other critical shipment points including: weigh stations to link the weight of the cargo, streamlining gate operations; border and customs control points to provide visual inspection and automation of container processing, saving time and resources; and for general loss prevention along shipment routes to detect container tampering and prevent theft, helping to document and limit shipping companies’ liability claims.

ISS developed its innovative SecurOS Cargo Terminal Solution to enhance security at critical shipping locations and supplement data collection by providing remote visual inspection of cargo containers and control of vehicles which carry containers. The solution is built around a highly specialized video analytics module designed to recognize ISO codes on cargo containers, and is capable of capturing codes printed horizontally or vertically from above, back and either side of a container to take advantage of existing surveillance and IP infrastructure.

To satisfy the demands of the shipping and logistics community, the cargo container number recognition functionality incorporates a host of powerful features. One of the most utilitarian features is the ability to integrate with existing logistics and terminal management systems to automate gate operations and truck, train and crane container handling, which further improves workflows and enhances personnel efficiencies. It also supports a number of different recognition environments where trucks, cranes and forklifts are typically deployed, as well as hand-held devices for staff working in these areas. The system can read ISO codes, in addition to other special coding methods such as ILU, Kemler and ADR, from different angles. The multiple video sources are then coordinated internally in the system to ensure high levels of accuracy. Video from these cameras can also be exported for documentation and forensic analysis.

Container number recognition solutions employing advanced analytics will continue to grow in intelligence with emerging advancements in neural network technology, which provide the framework for different machine learning algorithms to work together and process complex data inputs. For example, an intelligent container number recognition and management solution can be trained to identify images that contain specific symbols such as company logos by analyzing images from a dataset of examples.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Security Today.

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