Perimeter protection: The first port of call

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Effective perimeter protection is key to ensuring port security and sustaining international trade flow, reports OPTEX Security EMEA’s Nikitas Koutsourais.

Ports are a vital part of the global trade ecosystem, serving as crucial entry and exit points for ships transporting goods and passengers across the world. They play a significant role in the global economy, acting as vital intermodal nodes within transportation networks and essential border control checkpoints. Port security is of paramount importance, not only in terms of transportation operations, but also as checkpoints for regional, national and global security.

The International Maritime Organization introduced the International Ship and Port Facility Security  Code in 2004, establishing a comprehensive security regime for the shipping industry. The Code defines maritime security as a set of preventive measures aimed at safeguarding shipping and port facilities from intentional unlawful acts and its primary objective is to ensure the security of maritime vessels and land interfaces.

A crucial component of the Code is the Port Facility Security Assessment (PFSA), an integral part of the process for developing and updating the Port Facility Security Plan. The PFSA is conducted by the contracting government or recognised security organisations and encompasses various aspects, including perimeter protection, access control and the identification of infrastructure weaknesses, which also takes human factors into account.

Innovative security for a challenging environment

Protection against unauthorised entry into the perimeter, whether by land or sea, is a critical element of port security and is an increasing challenge in today’s complex and ever-evolving maritime landscape. One major challenge faced by ports is effectively monitoring and protecting extensive perimeters that are often exposed to adverse weather conditions.

Additionally, the presence of multiple entry points, such as vehicular, pedestrian and maritime access, further compounds the task of maintaining robust security infrastructure. Moreover, emerging threats, like the use of drones for smuggling purposes, add another layer of complexity to port perimeter security. Finding innovative solutions to these challenges is essential to safeguard the essential flow of international commerce and maintaining a secure environment.

One widely adopted solution within these sites is the use of CCTV and AI systems. However, environmental factors such as the saline environment, breeze and humidity can degrade cameras through corrosion and affect performance. Another obstacle that can disrupt the effectiveness of CCTV systems is the obstruction of the visible area by containers or low-light conditions. To address these challenges, there are a number of cutting-edge technologies that can provide stable and accurate intrusion detection in port environments.

Virtual perimeters and high security for vulnerable areas

Extremely versatile and customisable, 2D LiDAR technology, such as OPTEX’s REDSCAN PRO series, provides an advanced security solution for port areas. Not affected by light or weather conditions, it can accurately detect unauthorised intrusions and keep false alarms to an absolute minimum. Installed vertically, LiDARs can create a laser curtain only a few centimetres wide which can effectively secure the perimeter without causing any disruption to port operations.

This application is particularly interesting for the security of the confluence between the sea and land, but it can also serve as an additional layer of security for vulnerable areas of the perimeter, such as vehicular or pedestrian entry points. When integrated with EAC, ANPR or PSIM systems, it can enhance access control measures by detecting unauthorised entry or suspicious activities.

The flexibility of LiDAR technology is such that it can be used for multiple applications within the port environment. For instance, LiDARs can help to monitor stopped vehicles at intersections, ensuring their continued operation and minimising any potential risks or delays and can also be used to protect roofs and facades. With its remarkable speed of detection and high accuracy (being able to pinpoint the exact location of an intrusion), it can help to prevent unauthorised access and real time tracking of any potential threats within the environment or site perimeter.

Enhance fenced perimeters and buried solutions

Certain areas within the port are enclosed by physical perimeters, such as walls or fences. For instance, the Logistics Activities Zone (LAZ) near ports and container terminals requires protection of its wide perimeter with multiple entry points. Distributed Acoustic Sensors (DAS) are an advanced fibre optic solution ideal for securing these perimeters. The new Echopoint series, for example, whether fence-mounted or installed underground, adapts to the environment, resists corrosion and salinity, while being unaffected by adverse weather conditions such as fog and lightning.

DAS technology utilises intelligent detection algorithms to precisely identify the point of intrusion location within a margin of +/- six metres within a range of up to 100km. Divided into software-defined virtual detection zones, the system can adapt to the required level of protection and is suitable for securing large perimeters. Operating only at the perimeter level, it does not interfere with LAZ activity and allows for early warning in case someone approaches the fence, tries to climb over or cut through it.

From advanced LiDAR-based systems that create virtual perimeters and offer precise detection capabilities, to intelligent fence-mounted or buried sensors that accurately pinpoint intrusions, innovative technologies can play a vital role in enhancing port perimeter security, addressing the complex challenges faced by these integral maritime facilities. As the global trade landscape evolves, it is crucial for port authorities to stay at the forefront of technological advancements, leveraging innovative solutions to ensure their security and safety, while helping to facilitate the continued and essential flow of international trade.

This article was originally published in the June 2023 edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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