In a two-year project, the Port of Portland, OR, recently completed a security upgrade that implemented the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) standard for smart cards and improved access control for pedestrian, vehicle and rail routes leading to two multi-purpose, multi-modal terminals.
The program was funded, in part, by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security.
According to Forrest Gist, who was principal project manager for CH2M Hill [www.ch2m.com], the consulting engineers for the port upgrade (and now with Critigen) [www.critigen.com], “The Port was a great partner in the project. It was a nice blend of security hardening and advanced technology and communications.”
Gist worked with Dan Pippenger, the port security director; George Seaman, the project manager; and Jay Ostlund, the assistant project manager.
Products used in the project included an access control system from AMAG [www.amag.com], a video management system from Verint [www.verint.com], guard houses from BIG Enterprises [www.bigbooth.com] and thermal imaging cameras from FLIR [www.flir.com].
The Port of Portland services more than 800 vessel calls each year, accounting for more than 14 million tons of cargo, including bulk, break-bulk, containers and automobiles. Terminal operations continue night and day, year round, so the security infrastructure needs to be effective, regardless of weather or lighting conditions.
The port’s Terminal 4 has seven berths that can handle vehicle, bulk and liquid bulk cargo. Terminal 6 is a deep draft container terminal that spreads across 300 acres. It also services vehicles and break-bulk cargo. Each terminal can process 1,000 trucks per day, in addition to all of their normal rail traffic.
Some of the new security systems at the port focused on the cargo and its containers. The solutions included an optical character recognition (OCR) system, which scans shipping container markings and matches these markings to their truck’s license plate. In addition, radiation portal monitors were installed to scan containers for abnormal levels of radiation, which could indicate the presence of a dirty bomb.
Other parts of the security upgrade involved the terminals’ physical security, including the installation of improved guardhouses, reinforced fencing and an upgraded access control system, based on the implementation of the nationwide Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) system.
One of the largest security problems, common to many ports, was that certain areas were nearly impossible to secure physically. For example, it is impractical, expensive or dangerous to use fencing in railway areas because trains enter the terminal access areas at all hours of the day and night. This creates is an obvious vulnerability, because anyone can walk down the tracks and enter the port’s property before security personnel knew about it.
Similarly, waterfront areas are impractical to secure physically. Fences aren’t a viable solution because of the round-the-clock access required by ships, equipment and longshoremen.
The port’s solution to these challenges was to install FLIR thermal cameras, which enabled port security personnel to monitor rail access points 24 hours a day, and receive alarms whenever anyone crossed onto port property. The thermal cameras could effectively monitor large waterfront areas, such as Terminal 6, which is almost three miles long, and send alarms to the security operations guardhouse for evaluation and response.
Since thermal cameras make video images from heat, rather than light, and cannot be fooled by poor weather, darkness or camouflage, they work 24/7, and can see intruders from farther away than comparable CCTV cameras.
The Port of Portland’s thermal cameras, operating alongside daylight and lowlight video cameras, provide an overlapping mix of video coverage. Fixed thermal cameras of 19, 35, 50 and 100mm focal links monitor stationary areas and choke points. Port security also uses PTZ-50 and 35 x 140 multi-sensor cameras in central locations to scan larger areas, while maintaining a zoom capability for more detailed threat analyses.
By coupling the FLIR cameras with a video analytics package, the port created a virtual perimeter that helps the security teams detect movement in areas that are otherwise difficult or impossible to secure physically.
Editor’s Note: Critigen [www.critigen.com] is a global technology consultancy. Divested from CH2M Hill’s $6.4 billion engineering business, Critigen offers its expertise to worldwide clients to develop technology-based approaches. The Port of Portland project was completed under CH2M Hill.