NEW YORK PORTS & TRADE 2006 - Security still top priority at New York-New Jersey ports

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

$6 million to be spent this year and nextBy Peter A. Buxbaum, AJOTIt’s over four and half years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey sees no letup in security spending. The PA has spent over $70 million since 9/11 to secure port terminals on such items as fencing, lighting, closed-circuit television, and access systems. Over the next two years, the agency expects to invest another $6 million for more closed-circuit television cameras and a biometric access control system at the Port Authority’s Administration Building, at public berths, and at other critical port infrastructure.
Much of the access control spending will involve implementing the mandatory Transportation Worker Identity Card (TWIC) program. The Coast Guard and Bureau of Customs and Border Protection recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking for that program. The Port Authority has also advanced other security initiatives recently, including participation in a pilot container tracking project under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security’s Operation Safe Commerce.
“By the end of this year, the Port Authority will have spent approximately $80 million on capital improvements and security-related operating costs post-911,” said Beth Ann Rooney, port security manager in the Port Authority’s Port Commerce Department, in an exclusive interview with the AJOT. “About 60% of that is operating costs, and that includes new security equipment and operations control centers, maintenance of those systems, and new security personnel.”
The $6 million the PA will spend in 2006 and 2007 will provide enhancements to its closed-circuit television system and for new access control and card reading systems that are will serve as the TWIC infrastructure. There will also be investment in geographic information systems which will give port personnel graphical layouts of key systems and critical infrastructure for the purposes of maintenance as well as response to incidents.
“The graphical display will be able to point firefighters to the closest shutoff valves and fire hydrants,” Rooney said. “The system will also maintain a database of equipment parameters and maintenance records.”
As far as TWIC goes, “We will be required to put card reader infrastructure in place,” Rooney said. “The Coast Guard rulemaking estimated this will cost between eight-thousand and eleven-thousand dollars per facility. We haven’t done the math yet, but I can tell you that those numbers are grossly underestimated.”
In addition, there is the issue of the cost of $149 for port personnel to apply for the identity card. “The proposed rule says that is an individual expense,” Rooney, said, “but I imagine that employers will end up bearing those costs. We will also be investing in the software, servers, and databases required in order to operate the access control system. We’ll need a back-end information system to store local information on who is authorized to access facilities and to download information from central servers on cards that have been terminated.”
Operation Safe CommerceThe Port Authority is also participating in a pilot test to track the status of cargo containers from their points of origin to their destinations. Rooney expects some one thousand boxes to be tracked between March and October 2006. Ninety have already arrived at the port, and fifty more are presently on route. The pilot, part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Operation Safe Commerce, is being conducted in cooperation with three shippers: two in the Middle East and one in Europe. DHS has requested that the shippers’ identities not be disclosed.
Operation Safe Commerce has received $75 million in federal finding over the last four years. The ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Los Angeles, and Long Beach are also participating in the program.
“The point of Operation Safe Commerce is for government to partner with the private sector to come up with end-to-end supply chain se

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Peter Buxbaum has been writing about international trade and transportation, as well as security, defense, technology, and foreign policy, for over 20 years. Besides contributing to the AJOT, Buxbaum's work has appeared in such leading publications as [em]Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Computerworld, and Jane's Defence Weekly[/em]. He was educated at Columbia University.