Effective security at ports crucial for global economy

A layered security model is best way to protect ports & global economy
NEWS, Ports & Free Zones


By Frank Soltero, G4S

Over 90 per cent of the goods essential to the existence and growth of a modern global economy are transported by sea. These essential goods can be manufactured, partially manufactured, or raw materials such as coal and oil or agricultural products such as oilseeds and grains. Transporting these goods by sea offers sizeable cost and volume advantages over freighting them by air. According to the World Bank the cost of shipping goods by air is 12 to16 times that of transporting them by sea.

Shipping by sea is often the only economically viable option for a company, especially when large quantities of goods need to be shipped to achieve economies of scale. Take for example the shipment of goods between the Middle East and Asia. Shipping by rail, lorry, or air can be impractical in terms of time and logistics and potentially prohibitively expensive. For a country with limited manufacturing capacity or agriculture, access to the sea to import goods is critical to its national welfare and economic growth.

Seen in this context, it is easy to understand why seaports are regarded as important points of transit in the global economy, and installations of national significance – that is to say, as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI).

Governments in the Middle East, especially in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE have recognised the importance of sea trade to their economies. They are embarking on major infrastructure projects to create entirely new seaports and expand existing ones. Saudi Arabia has been particularly active in this respect. It is currently expanding the existing container port in Jeddah and, through the launch of its “Economic Cities” initiative will build at least two major seaports on the Western Coast of Saudi Arabia thus increasing Saudi Arabia’s role as a major regional player in shipping and logistics.

In an interconnected world where inventories are lean and “just in time” manufacturing processes are the norm, it is important to ensure that supply chains remain uninterrupted. Since seaports are major linchpins in the supply chain, disruptions at a nation’s seaports can have major repercussions on a nation’s economy. These repercussions are often magnified the longer a disruption lasts. Disruptions can take the form of acts of piracy, industrial action, and the blockage and destruction of port facilities. Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) countries are attuned to this reality and have embarked on significant infrastructure projects to transform their economies from oil-based to diversified ones. Some GCC countries are also preparing to host a series of high profile global events, such as the World Expo in 2020 and the World Cup in 2022. These projects require the importation of substantial quantities of construction materials, the disruption of which would cause costly project delays.

Over the last fourteen years, a number of internationally-driven, security-related regulations have been created to keep the supply chain safe and secure. These regulations include the Maritime Transportation Act, Container Security Initiative, ISPS Code, and EU Port security directives.

Understanding the need to ensure that they are compliant with these directives, GCC countries have turned to G4S to provide comprehensive risk analysis and security planning services to help them secure their supply chains .Officials at new seaports in Saudi Arabia have adopted G4S’ ‘layered security model’ approach, which balances the need for security and compliance with the primary goal of facilitating trade.

In the context of a seaport, a layered security model is used to logically and physically segment a facility into layers or areas of protection. These layers can include an outer layer (typically the wider city area), the middle layer (general greater port area), and the inner layer (terminal or other operators). The model is designed to deny access to unauthorised personnel (including attackers or even accidental intruders) from physically accessing a critical asset which may include buildings, facilities, resources or stored information.

This approach uses a multi-layered model where each layer is structured to trigger warnings and provide a time delay to identify the threat and manage the risk – this is often referred to as the ‘5-D’s’: Detect (passive defence), Deter (passive defence), Delay (passive defence), Defend (active defence), Defeat (active defence). In short, this approach uses a combination of policies, procedures, and technologies to ensure that the supply chain is protected at the seaport level.

In short, Seaports represent a critical component of the global supply chain and are especially important to the economic growth of the global economy and GCC Countries in particular. Securing these facilities against risks and threats must be a top priority for governments and industry alike.G4S is well placed to further help organisations secure their facilities with layered security solutions by leveraging the combined experience of its global network of security professionals.

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