Home' Baird Maritime : August 2011 Contents What is Port Security?
David Wignall* on the latest port developments
To be secure is to be: free from fear, anxiety or doubt; free from
danger or attack; reliable and unlikely to fail.
To deliver freedom from fear requires the establishment of
faith, confidence and trust that your systems can consistently
deliver the promise of security. The irrational acts of terrorists
have brought into question the ability of any security system to
truly deliver freedom from fear. Efforts to deter attacks can often
remind people of the threats that motivate the security measures.
Is this a Catch 22, or a reminder that to deliver security to users
and stakeholders requires a far more holistic view than we have
offered to date? Or do we need to integrate secure thinking into
everyday life, make it part of our business process in the way that
safety should be?
Standard approaches to security management view everyone as
a threat until proven otherwise. Meanwhile, operations
management requires constant confirmation that activities are
being undertaken as expected and promised. For the former, you
must constantly prove you are permitted to do what you wish to
do. In the latter, you must continue to do what you should be
doing. These statements should be mutually supportive. If you are
doing what you should be doing you are not a threat, while
anyone doing things they should not be doing represents a threat,
either simply to company performance, or more generally a
tangible security threat to everyone.
Security analysts say, "to protect we need to be ahead of
potential threats and identify attacks before they occur". An
operations manager says, "to operate effectively we ensure
everyone is doing what they should be doing". To be secure is to
be operationally effective. Security should work with all port
stakeholders to understand their operations; what people,
equipment and cargo should be doing. When activities are
monitored and do not conform to expectations there is a threat, be
it operational or security, and that threat needs to be resolved.
Shippers, shipping companies, terminals, stevedores, other
tenants, port users and stakeholders all need to maintain security
within specific boundaries, and these boundaries all intersect and
overlap at ports. Consider a container, for example. It is easy to see
the information overlaps between different port users and
stakeholders. Operational information is sometimes shared for
mutual benefit. But how often is the same information understood
for its security implications?
Now consider the potential threats to that container. It could
be placed next to the wrong commodity in another container.
Someone could try to steal the contents or overload the
container. It could be poorly secured. It could be used to
smuggle people, bomb-making equipment, or worse. Control
and management of the container is similar for all interested
parties. However, the information flow about that container has
multiple strands forming a complex web of 'who knows what'.
The security of the container is best served by an analysis of all
the available information to identify exceptions, to be profiled
This approach can be repeated for all port operations and in
almost all assessments you get similar results. Then you start to see
why convergence of systemic operations and security risks is
inevitable. To understand one is to understand the other, and in
the blended or converged data you can identify the most
significant threats. You may even identify hitherto unknown
threats, encompassing risks to operational performance as well as
drugs-and human-trafficking and terrorism-related threats.
Fine in theory, but in practice, what is global 'best in class'
port security? What approaches are leading ports taking to
reduce the possibility of business interruption, avoid
inefficiencies and keep ahead of developing risks? Singapore and
Rotterdam both have a long history of advanced applications for
threat assessment and forecasting. They believe that operational
information is of great interest in their security planning,
whether that information covers vessels, cargo, crew,
owners, scheduling etc. They see company and fleet security
officers as critical, and view stakeholder intelligence feeds
as vital. The relevance of environmental and weather
impacts is also recognised. These port authorities use a
'risk/operations/vulnerability matrix' with input from all
stakeholders, seeing it as a key differential in security.
Major container lines outline the following as key operational
• Early notification of location, speed and performance
• Understanding performance, position and situation for
• ETA due to mechanical issues
• Berth availability due to on-berth failures
• Draught/tidal issues on arrival/departure
• Understanding and managing cargo delivery cut-off times
• Managing dual-fuel port requirements and possible loss of vessel
• Regulatory issues as potential unexpected cost items
Leading ports and lines understand port security can be
improved through better use of operational intelligence. The
implication is that security data should also be used to improve
*David Wignall has worked in ports for 25 years. He founded his own
company, David Wignall Associates, to develop ports and help managers
get the best out of their terminals. www.davidwignallassociates.com
August 2011 BAIRD MARITIME
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