January 15, 2013

Defense Daily's Homeland Security Report

Following two key strategic contract wins last year to provide security detection equipment for Abu Dhabi's Port of Khalifa, American Science and Engineering [ASEI] is providing that country's Customs service with a highly integrated solution for both imports and exports to create a best-in-class security solution, a company official tells HSR.

Last June AS&E received a contract from Abu Dhabi Customs to provide two of its dual-energy OmniView Gantry cargo and vehicle inspection systems and a Z Portal cargo and vehicle screening system to scan containers coming into the country. The value of that award was not disclosed.

Then in December the company received a $24.6 million contract from Abu Dhabi Customs to provide two of its high-throughput Sentry Portal scanning systems as well as high-resolution spectroscopic radiation portal monitors from AMETEK's [AME] Ortec division and lane video cameras and container identification systems from Multi-Media Communications as part of the screening process for containers prior to being loaded on ships for export.

These deployments and the plans to network them represent a "higher level of integration than we've done in the past," says Tim McCabe, vice president of Marketing and Technical Sales for AS&E. The initial installations of the OmniView and Z Portal systems are traditional deployments in that the systems are essentially point solutions for the detection of explosives, contraband or even radiological materials and nuclear weapons but there is no integration of the various technologies into a common operating picture.

With the contract for the Sentry Portals and radiation detection monitors that all changes.

McCabe says that now when container traffic is being processed for export, as it goes through a given scanning system, that data can be accessed by various authorities on one screen, including video and container ID information from the cameras, with decisions made along the way whether to route the cargo for additional screening or even manual unloading or just approve it to be loaded on a ship. AS&E is using its own ASE Connect software as the networking solution for the deployments.

"So we're kind of taking separate steps that happen some distance from each other in the port and we're just continuing to aggregate the data that's associated with that particular container," McCabe says. This is an integration of the inspection process, he says.

It will take six months to a year to get the export lanes--there are two--up and running, McCabe says. The plan also calls for upgrading the import lanes to the same level of integrated networked screening to provide Customs authorities with an easier way to view each container and the scanning data associated with it to make decisions about it at key points in the process prior to approval to exit the port into the country.

For the Port of Khalifa, which is a megaport, these security system deployments and their integration is part of its goal for a best-in-class port, McCabe says. For the port the high-end screening solution allows them to create a "competitive advantage to attract business" by letting customers know that they can pre-screen containers prior to loading so that they can expedite clearances in any country where the cargo is destined, he says.

For exports the two lanes with Sentry Portals can scan up to 300 containers per hour, which is high-throughput, McCabe says. This deployment is similar to the goals of U.S. plans for a Secure Freight Initiative to have all inbound containers screened for weapons of mass destruction prior to leaving a foreign port.

McCabe says that the scanning data around the containers being exported from Khalifa will meet the requirements of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Container Security Initiative program so that U.S. officials can have electronic access to the pre-screened cargo.

The market for port security, both at seaports and even land ports, is going in the direction of more integrated solutions, McCabe believes. Once the deployments and network integration is operational at Khalifa, the port will serve as a "showcase" in terms of its own capabilities but also for how data can be integrated in the inspection process as vehicles and containers flow through the port, he says.