DHS Develops Container Security Test Bed Solution

As part of its mission to secure our nation’s borders, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS’s) Custom and Border Protection (CBP) must quickly and accurately monitor and inspect thousands of sea cargo containers entering U.S. ports each day. There’s a new way to test technical solutions to this challenge – the Container Security Test Bed (Test Bed) – developed by DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL).

The Test Bed is an outdoor “laboratory” run by TSL engineers, which simulates the cranes and methods used to unload container ships at ports. It allows both private and public researchers and developers to work together to test – in a real-world setting – new types of sensors that can detect threats inside cargo containers including:

  • Drugs, 
  • Explosives, and
  • Chemical, biological or radiological weapons

Researchers are particularly interested in developing sensors that can capture a representative sample of the air inside a cargo container through air vents that are standard on cargo containers. They are also working to design sensors that could be built into cargo containers and programmed to send data on any illegal content to the receiving port while still in route.

This collaborative effort presents a unique and valuable opportunity as most maritime terminals equipped with the appropriate cranes and infrastructure to offload 40 foot containers do not have the time or flexibility to run experiments and test new screening technologies. It further represents another example of a public-private partnership working together to make our borders more safe and secure.

Ryan Loughin is Director of Petrochemical & Energy Solutions for the Advanced Integration division of ADT- www.adtbusiness.com/petrochem. He provides security education to CFATS and MTSA-affected companies and is a member of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA), Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Associates (SOCMA), Energy Security Council (ESC) and American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS). Loughin has also completed multiple levels of CVI Authorized User training (Chemical-Terrorism Vulnerability Information) which was authored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
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