Every single day, thousands of containers travel the globe and security professionals need to ensure the cargo that originally was shipped in them is what remains in them when they reach their destination.
Harmful or illegal content, added after the cargo was cleared for transport, needs to be detected and intercepted.
Securing the global supply chain, while ensuring its smooth functioning, is essential to U.S. national security. That is why the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and Israel’s Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) teamed to tackle that issue through the Low Cost Disposable Electronic Seals Pilot.
Container security devices (CSDs) are used in the shipping environment to ensure the integrity of the container and track the movement of the container in the supply chain.
The Low Cost Disposable Electronic Seals Pilot arose from the need to develop technologies that ensure cargo shipments aren’t tampered with and to enhance the end-to-end security of the supply chain.
The U.S. and Israel’s MoPS selected Hi-G-Tek, a company based in the U.S. and Israel, to develop the electronic seals.
Hi-G-Tek provides wireless container security devices that provide security information. The electronic seals use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to communicate, and they store customer specific information like container and manifest number.
The seal also acts as a lock and can replace the International Organization for Standards certified mechanical bolt seal. Using embedded sensors, the seals can prevent attempts at detaching, bypassing or tampering and will record any such attempts to do so.
Upon arriving at a port, the port authority will use an application on a standard smart phone to scan the seal which will provide this critical information and determine whether the cargo container should be inspected further or continue on. MoPS also identified three Israeli companies – Caesar Stone, Tama Plastics and Hadera Paper – that would participate in the pilot by providing products to be shipped in containers using the electronic seals.
This work should reduce the risk of terrorists and transnational criminal organizations from manipulating cargo passing through multiple cargo methods through the international supply chain.
The commercial market for CSDs is growing and technology continues to advance. This pilot, which officially kicked off in April and ends in November, will demonstrate the use of CSD technology and will help U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) understand how to best use the data. If successful, the data interfaces and analysis can be integrated into CBP systems and could be used by the National Targeting Center to better identify high-risk cargo and facilitate the processing of low-risk cargo.