and locate the container, and there is additional concern about other containers possibly in place around the country already or on the way. The federal government is probably compelled to halt the movement of all containers and isolate thousands of suspect ones. Even if the device is not detonated, commerce is severely affected by the disruption of trade and the public’s confidence in the system of deterrence and interception is eroded.
A Layered Security System to Lessen the Threat
Security cannot begin and end at the port but must be integrated into the entire logistics chain. And it must be part of an overall system that can address multiple threats, rather than an unintegrated series of tactics aimed at addressing one vulnerability at a time. Megaports offer a point of leverage for developing such a systems approach. Containers of most shippers will pass through one or more of these large hub seaports in the United States and abroad. The corresponding port authorities and their governments, therefore, are in a position to impose standardized requirements on shipment security, reporting, and information-sharing that will have a near-universal effect on practice throughout the industry. Industry trade associations may be employed to certify compliance with these standards; for instance, a shipper that does not maintain the prerequisites could be denied membership in the association, and nonmember shippers could be denied access to the megaport or have their access severely restricted.
One prerequisite might be that containers be loaded in sanitized facilities that are certified and subject to recertification after a change in ownership. Such facilities, whether at shippers’ own locations or those of the freight consolidators, might be secured from unauthorized entry, monitored with surveillance cameras, and equipped with cargo and vehicle scanners. Images from these scanners could be stored with other documentation on the shipment and forwarded to transshipment points or destination ports for comparisons when the shipment arrives or during randomized inspections along the way. A tamper-resistant mechanical or electronic seal might be placed on the container at the certified loading facility. Light or temperature sensors might also be placed in the container and set to transmit a signal or sound an alarm if activated by an unexpected opening.
Drivers of vehicles that deliver the containers to the ports might have their identities confirmed through biometric cards and be subject not only to periodic checks on their background but to scrutiny, using data mining techniques, for discerning unusual patterns of work and behavior. Microcomputers with transponders might be attached to the motor system to track its route and shut down the engines if it veers from the approved course. Meanwhile, manufacturers, importers, and shipping companies could be required to provide authorities with advance notice of the details of their shipments. Such early notification would give inspectors time to assess the validity of the data, using artificial-intelligence and data-mining capabilities, and to check for anomalies that warrant closer examination.
These capabilities might be provided through a central facility with the necessary expertise and resources; its analysts could then advise inspectors and other enforcement officials on the handling of suspect shipments. Those singled out for closer scrutiny, including shipments from uncertified facilities, could be subject to a variety of nondestructive examinations, from simple reweighing to vapor and radi-