DHS, Israel Tackle Cargo Shipping Security

The Low Cost Disposable Electronic Seals Pilot helps ensure cargo shipments aren’t tampered with, enhancing the end-to-end security of the supply chain.

Each day, thousands of containers travel the globe. Security agencies need to ensure the cargo that originally was shipped in them is what is in them when they reach their destination. Harmful or illegal content, added after the cargo was cleared for transport, must be detected and intercepted. Securing the global supply chain, while ensuring its smooth functioning, is essential to U.S. national security. The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and Israel’s Ministry of Public Security (MOPS) teamed up 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 ensured 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 both 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.

Enhancing U.S. and Israeli Maritime Cargo Security

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 2019 and ends in November 2019, 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.

Next Steps

S&T, in cooperation with MOPS, CBP, Hi-G-Tek and Sandia National Labs, will evaluate the data collected on the electronic seals as they arrive from Israel in Savannah, Georgia, the port of entry. The pilot will end in November 2019 at which point a final evaluation report will be generated.

International Partners

Since 2009, S&T has partnered with MOPS to promote cooperative research and development (R&D), test and evaluation activities and the exchange of science and technology information sharing to address homeland security challenges like border and maritime cargo security. To date we have partnered on 17 projects valued at more than $25 million.

As the R&D arm of DHS, S&T understands the importance of global cooperation and international partnerships to enhance homeland security capabilities. Currently, S&T’s International Cooperative Programs Office manages 13 international partnerships actively sharing solutions and information to help keep all nations’ critical infrastructure, national security and economic interests secure. Among these international partners, Israel stands out as a unique partner for their challenging operational environment. Faced daily with a wide-array of threats, Israel’s government and industry has become innovative, agile and responsive to keeping pace with new and emerging threats.

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