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RFID Adds to Security at Virginia Port Authority

Savi Networks and GE Security tapped to protect all three of the port authority's terminals.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 23, 2006The Virginia Port Authority is deploying RFID systems from Savi Networks and GE Security to improve the security and efficiency of the processes surrounding its cargo container shipments. ’The authority is joining a growing number of ports worldwide that are deploying RFID technologies for this purpose.

GE Security's CommerceGuard Container Security Device (CSD) includes an RFID tracking system that transmits data to CommerceGuard readers operating at 2.4 GHz and stationed within a 100-foot range. The CommerceGuard system also contains sensors designed to detect whether cargo-container doors have been opened, as well as other events that might indicate tampering has taken place; such data can be recorded onto the RFID tags.

Savi Technology's offerings include Savi Tag ST-676 ISO Container Security Tags for RFID tracking, which transmit data at 433 MHz to its readers stationed within a 100-foot range. Sensors are optional, but if used, the RFID tags can record whether a container door has been opened or closed, or whether there has been any shock to the container. These sensors can also detect changes in humidity or temperature measurements, just as they can with the CommerceGuard system.

Port of Virginia has three separate terminals: Norfolk International Terminal, Newport News Marine Terminal and Portsmouth Marine Terminal. The GE system has been in place at all three terminals since July. Within the next month, the Virginia port will have Savi's RFID readers and antennas operating at all three terminals, says Ed Merkle, director of port security and emergency operations for the Virginia Port Authority.

"We're starting with the lowest hurdle," says Lani Fritts, Savi Networks' chief operating officer. That lowest hurdle is the installation of readers at the exit and entrance gates, which provide details about containers as the shipments arrive and depart from the port. Down the road, the port may install RFID readers on cranes, which will allow further detail as to when the containers are unloaded or moved at the port. Fritts says there is no specific date yet for crane installation.

Savi, in partnership with Hutchinson Port Holdings, has either deployed or begun deployment of its RFID system in 80 port terminals throughout the world. In July 2006, cargo terminals in Georgia, including those operated by the Port of Savannah, were equipped with Savi Network RFID readers under the direction of the Maritime Logistics Innovation Center (see Georgia Cargo Terminals Becoming RFID-Enabled). Like the RFID system at these terminals, the Virginia Port Authority system will provide cargo owners and carriers with data regarding the location—and, in some cases, the condition—of containers passing through the port.

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