New Project Sets Sights on Harnessing the Power of IoT to Boost Port Security


A new Dutch-Belgian initiative is seeking to strengthen port security by harnessing the power of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The project is called “PASSAnT,” which is short for “PlAtform for innovative Security Solutions hArbours and Terminals.” It relies on the support of the Dutch government, the Dutch province of North Brabant, the Belgian province of West Flanders and the European Fund for Regional Development Flanders-Netherlands to counter criminals who’d abuse ports to smuggle humans, drugs and explosives. The goal of the project is for the Innos innovation network to develop smart solutions that can deter bad actors at these logistical and economic hubs.

Innos intends to focus its efforts around creating three technologies. These are as follows:

Tarapaulins: The industrial textile company Sioen will develop smart, impermeable tarps to protect truckloads that arrive at a port. If anyone attempts to cut into the material, the tarp will send an alert to a central control system. Operators can then send security officers to the truckload and/or contact local law enforcement.
Fencing: Betafence will upgrade the fencing systems around Belgian and Dutch ports to include advanced barriers and locking systems. The fences will also come equipped with sensors that can detect when someone attempts to breach or climb them. If they detect this type of activity, the sensors will send a signal to an alarm center.
Cameras: Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology, ViNotion and Omines Internetbureau will deploy a new set of cameras that use WiFi-tracking and behavioral image analysis to track the speed of an object’s movement and recognize vehicle registration numbers. They’ll also be able to analyze people and send notifications to the police if they if they pick up on indicators of human smuggling.

The goal of the project is to test the new technologies over a three-year period. If the experiments go well, the technologies could become commercially available.

In the meantime, those behind PASSAnT are going to need to address some of the privacy issues surrounding their technological innovations. One such issue pertains to that types of features that the new cameras will look out for in their analysis. Building off this initial concern, privacy advocates would want to know that the cameras won’t alert the police about innocent people.

An even more significant issue is the question of how the data collected by the cameras would be secured. Dirk Geeraerts, Benelux & Southern Europe Regional Director of Data Protection at Gemalto, hopes that the cameras would incorporate basic security controls like encryption:

“The researchers could (and should) apply encryption to the data if it’s to be stored. This type of security measure will help lessen the likelihood of a data breach. As Gemalto’s Breach Level Index (BLI) found in the first half of 2018, just four percent of breaches were “Secure Breaches” where encryption was used and the stolen data was rendered useless.”

It remains to be seen how the project will address these and other concerns over the next three years.

Learn more about the new Dutch-Belgian initiative PASSAnT via their website.

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