Navigation Links
Out beyond the horizon
Date:9/22/2007

The world is a very different place out beyond the horizon. Even as you read this, there are some 40,000 large cargo ships plying the worlds waterways and oceans, not to mention innumerable smaller merchant craft, all pulling in and out of ports, loading, unloading, changing out crews and cargos, and steaming from one location to the next.

In what can be a very murky world of shadowy ship registry offices, lengthy manifests, and dockhands who change out faster than Barbosas crew, how all these ships come by their cargo, how that cargo is loaded, by what polyglot seamen and in what untamed ports, can be an amazingly scrambled and trackless story rivaling the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Scenario: A single ship starts out in Singapore with containers filled with electronics, passes through Indonesia where it picks up spices, sails to Calcutta to load cotton, Port Said where it boards an Egyptian crew, Piraeus where it stops for fuel, Tangier where it picks up leathers, Scotland where it packs in woolen sweaters, and finally sets sail for Newark, New Jersey. Eleven million containers packed with such goods reach U.S. ports every year.

At any point in a merchant ships journey, pry open container XYZ mid-ocean, and what might you find" When you cant be sure, that spells danger. The possibility that a single container has gone purposefully astray and might now be packed with explosives, or loaded with a virulent biologic destined for our shores, is not a fictional scenario. (In 1988, it was an Al Qaeda merchant ship that delivered the materials needed to bomb U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. That same ship was never seen again.)

Given lots of time, customs agents could find all contraband. But, in the world of maritime shipping, time is the enemy. Try delaying a delivery, and you may face some rough characters down at the docks (think On the Waterfront). What's more, anything that hinders the swift transit of goods around the world can have a rippling effect on the worlds economy.

MATTS DHS S&Ts Marine Asset Tag Tracking System is a miniature sensor, data logging computer, radio transceiver, and GPS tracking system integrated into a compact and inexpensive black box, about the size of a deck of cards. Affixed to a shipping container, MATTS can use its on-board GPS chip to estimate its location if the GPS signal is lost. And, in the final version of the system, containers outfitted with MATTS tags will be able to transmit through shipboard communications systems, even if they are placed deep below deck. The tags signal will jump from container to container until it finds a path it can use. Better yet, this black box stores its location history and reports it back when in range (up to 1 km) of an Internet equipped ship, container terminal, or a cell phone tower. At any point in a containers journey, its history can be examined, and if anything has gone amiss, authorities know instantly to scrutinize that particular container.

Ultimately, MATTS will be integrated with S&Ts Advanced Container Security Device. The ACSD sends an alert through MATTS when a container has been opened or tampered with on any side, providing even more security.

MATTS will globally communicate in-transit alerts to Customs and Border Protection, and this capability satisfies a high-priority CBP requirement, says Bob Knetl, Program Manager for the MATTS research within S&Ts Borders and Maritime Division.

In late April 2007, one hundred MATTS-equipped containers started out in the Port of Yokohama, Japan, and are now making their trans-Pacific crossing to the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, where they will then continue by rail to the Rochelle, Illinois, Rail Terminal and be unloaded and trucked to their final destination. This test, ending in August, will demonstrate that the communications can be used internationally (in this case, by Japans Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation) and that transitioning to domestic drayage once portside in Long Beach also runs smoothly.

MATTS was developed under a DHS S&T Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by iControl Incorporated, a small Santa Clara, CA-based company.

A serious threat is posed by the cargo that containers may hold, says Vinny Schaper, SBIR Program manager. We have to view the ocean with grave concern, and realize that a maritime attack is not beyond the realm of possibility and if it comes, it will probably involve the use of merchant ships. Eleven million containers a year are brought onto our docks. Interrupt this with a terrorist attack, and the backup would reach around the world.


'/>"/>
Contact: Gail Cleere
gail.cleere@dhs.gov
202-255-4070
US Department of Homeland Security - Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. Mega-Metro Center may go beyond Chicago and Wisconsin
2. Getting beyond the vortex of corporate mediocrity
3. Epic Systems will build well beyond current staff size
4. Security goes beyond technology into common-sense practices
5. Animal testing: Beyond the protests, instances of mistreatment are rare
6. Women entrepreneurs are finding ways to succeed in Wisconsin and beyond
7. To find solid security candidates, look beyond tech certificates
8. Going beyond me, too customer experiences
9. Beyond the screws and gears: Protecting your products by protecting your software
10. IT outsourcing remains on the horizon as companies focus on core business
11. Wisconsin Labor Shortage on the Horizon
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a ... eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research ... by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" ... commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors ... such as WDR5 represent an exciting class of ... precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances have ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... YM (Yeast and Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. ... microbial tests introduced last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... SAN FRANCISCO , June 23, 2016   ... it has secured $1 million in debt financing from ... to ramp up automation and to advance its drug ... for its new facility. "SVB has been ... goes beyond the services a traditional bank would provide," ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:5/12/2016)... WearablesResearch.com , a brand of Troubadour Research & ... Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. A particular ... a program where they would receive discounts for sharing ... "We were surprised to see that so many ... CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there are segments ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... BANGALORE, India , April 28, 2016 ... of Infosys (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung SDS, ... partnership that will provide end customers with a more ... payment services.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ) ... financial services, but it also plays a fundamental part in ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ...  report to their offering.  , ,     (Logo: ... forecast the global multimodal biometrics market to grow ... 2016-2020.  Multimodal biometrics is being implemented ... healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, and government for controlling ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):