A two-tiered scanning-protocol for inspecting all containers at international ports could be the most affordable approach to ensuring containers moving through the global transportation system are not carrying nuclear bombs, according to a paper being presented at a services special interest group meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS).
The authors challenge the federal scheme now in place that relies on targeting only a small number of containers that U.S. authorities identify as "high-risk" for inspection. Based on detailed data, involving 900,000 containers, drawn from two of the world's largest port terminal operations, they found that there is a serious risk of large bottlenecks in international shipping should a raised security alert or actual terrorist incident require that the current inspection protocol be ramped up.
"We find that the current inspection regime being advanced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and widely supported by the international community can only handle a small percentage of the total load," the authors maintain. "An alternate inspection protocol that emphasizes screening (a rapid primary scan of all containers, followed by a more careful secondary scan of only a few containers that fail the primary test) holds promise as a feasible solution for meeting the 100% scanning requirement."
"Estimating the Operational Impact of Container Inspections at International Ports" is co-authored by Nitin Bakshi http://www.london.edu/facultyandresearch/faculty/search.do?uid=nbakshi , London Business School, Stephen E. Flynn http://www.cfr.org/bios/3301/, Council on Foreign Relations, and Noah Gans http://www.wharton.upenn.edu/faculty/gans.html , The Wharton School. The paper will be presented at the INFORMS Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society, Service Management Special Interest Group Meeting taking plac
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Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences