The Port of Los Angeles named the 2010 STE Innovation Award gold medalist.

Thu, 09/30/2010

The Port of Los Angeles, located in San Pedro Bay, is Southern California's gateway to international commerce. Just 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, this booming seaport is the nation's largest container port and is also known for its groundbreaking environmental initiatives, progressive security measures, and diverse recreational and educational facilities. A department of the City of Los Angeles, the Port of Los Angeles encompasses 7,500 acres, 43 miles of waterfront and features 27 cargo terminals, including dry and liquid bulk, container, break bulk, automobile and omni facilities. Combined, these terminals handle more than 157 million metric revenue tons of cargo annually.

In 2009, the Port moved an impressive 6.7 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units). The Port is the busiest port in the United States by container volume, the 16th busiest container port in the world and the 7th busiest internationally when combined with the neighboring Port of Long Beach. The Port of Los Angeles is among the largest cruise ship centers on the West Coast of the United States and contains three ship berths transporting more than 850,000 passengers annually. The newly renovated World Cruise Center is claimed to be "the nation's most secure cruise passenger complex." As the leading seaport in North America in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value, the Port generates 1.1 million jobs in California and $21.5 billion in tax revenue throughout the United States.

The Port of Los Angeles continues to implement a number of strategic initiatives that center around the safety and security of its facilities and the surrounding community. Taking a leadership role in the development of strategies to mitigate security risks, the Port works closely with public and private partners to plan and coordinate innovative security measures.

Today, one of the country's most innovative ports in terms of security measures, the Port of Los Angeles spent years working on designing and deploying an innovative security platform. Prior to 2006, the Port operated with a few analog cameras across their expansive grounds. "We had just a few cameras run independently through an IP address operated by different departments," says Don Farrell, captain of the Los Angeles Port Police. "There was no master plan or integration of the systems."

Determining and Funding Security Needs

Prior to a new security system or plan, Port officials orchestrated a training exercise to determine how agencies would respond to a potential threat. The Port of Los Angeles announced that a container with radiological contents had exploded. Evaluating the amount of agencies that responded (Los Angeles Police Department, Coast Guard, County Sheriff, Los Angeles County, FBI and more), they concluded the need to design a phased approach to deploying an integrated security solution. "We discovered that too much important information could possibly be lost or misinterpreted by the time it reached the appropriate agency," Farrell explains.

Leveraging funding from the Port Security Grant Program, officials designed a new security system that would upgrade a disparate system into an integrated modern and innovative solution. In order to successfully implement the new security platform, the Port worked in phases to deploy the most important elements first.

Situational Awareness: The Threat Detection Center

Monitoring 43 miles of waterfront can be a daunting task. The port sought a solution that would unify stakeholders and effectively monitor the vast miles of waterfront. After an extensive evaluation process, the Port of Los Angeles chose the Nextiva IP video portfolio from Verint Video Intelligence Solutions. This initial deployment is known as the Waterside Surveillance System. Over the years, the Port has made continuous investments in technology and today is leveraging next-generation Nextiva Video Management software, integrated analytics, encoders/decoders and wireless devices along the port's waterfront and land-based facilities. The Nextiva IP video solution integrates with more than 350 third-party cameras to monitor highly critical areas. Captured data is then transmitted to a state-of the-art "Threat Detection Center" for central monitoring on Nextiva Review workstations.

With Nextiva, the Port of Los Angeles is able to collect vast amounts of information and provide security and emergency management staff with timely intelligence about events of genuine importance. "We have been extremely impressed with the open architecture and the willingness of Verint engineers to provide SDKs to help work with other technologies," Farrell says. The Port uses Nextiva's enterprise-class video security platform to help increase situational awareness, improve emergency preparedness and response, and expedite investigations.

"Another issue with situational awareness is having a good GIS system," Farrell explains. In 2007-2008, Port Police began to assess and implement GIS (geographic information system) technology in support of its security initiatives. Several departments at the Port were leveraging various GIS systems, and officials wanted to ensure that consistent data was obtained without duplicating and wasting resources. The Port turned to NorthSouth GIS LLC to provide customized geospatial data of the port and surrounding lands.

The GPS data is made available on an enterprise GIS system accessible to all internal port users. Mission-critical GIS information is used for situational and domain awareness in the Threat Detection Center, as well as on handheld devices in the field - providing information such as the geographic location of critical infrastructure facilities, underground drainage and diagrams of storm water run-off systems.

Integrated with Nextiva's Video Management software and third-party cameras, officials at the Port are able to leverage the enterprise GIS system so that personnel in the Threat Detection Center can pinpoint locations of their first responders in the field while having a complete view of activities. Through the use of this innovative GIS technology, integrated with the security platform, the Port has increased its ability to make the right decisions faster.

Emergency Response

In addition, the Port searched for a solution that would support field personnel in responding to real-time emergency situations and provide the right information to the right people at the right time. In 2010, the Port deployed the RealityVision solution from RealityMobile. Integrated with Nextiva, RealityVision delivers clear transmission of high-quality images to any authorized smart phone or handheld computer. This innovative solution ensures that an officer can view real-time images between the field and the Threat Detection Center. Additionally, the GPS tagging capabilities enable the Port to actively view the location of vehicles and vessels to optimize the deployment of personnel and assets.

"As officers arrive on a scene, they can actually see real-time video on their smart phone or handheld computer, so they know what is happening and not to run into the danger zone," Farrell says. "They can then use this information to make an intelligent decision as to where to deploy, or what actions to take first."

Video Surveillance Management

In a world economy that depends on the safe and efficient flow of goods, maintaining the port's security is critical to the nation's commerce. "We know through intelligence data that the ports of our nation are vulnerable to terrorist attacks," Farrell says. "If the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach were to shut down for just one day, the cost to our economy would be approximately $1 billion in commerce."

Because of this potential impact, the Port needs to rely on the most innovative and cutting-edge technology in the market. Utilizing Nextiva's Video Management software, the Port can easily integrate with other technology vendors to manage the large, geographically-distributed video operations more efficiently and cost-effectively. Further, Nextiva's single- and multi-port encoders and decoders combine low cost of ownership with video encoding technology for superior imagery and optimal bandwidth utilization.

For the Port of Los Angeles, Nextiva Analytics enhance situational awareness around its properties and transforms what used to be a manual, resource-intensive operation to an efficient, accurate, automated process. The Port leverages Nextiva Analytics to secure its expansive waterfront and perimeters by creating custom detection rules that secure tangible and virtual perimeters or borders. "We use the analytic capabilities of Nextiva to identify vessels that stray into small areas, or violate entry into restricted zones," Farrell explains. "With the alarm features, we can identify vessels that loiter and immediately dispatch marine police to investigate suspicious activity."

Finally, Nextiva wireless devices transmit images from locations managed by the Port to the Threat Detection Center. Using Verint's SPCF protocol, the Nextiva wireless system removes hidden nodes issues common in standard Wi-Fi deployments, provides predicable bandwidth usage, and extends the range of the wireless links without impacting the quality of the video streams. Leveraging encoding technology, Nextiva wireless transmitters deliver high-quality images, while minimizing use of valuable network bandwidth.

Today's Port of Los Angeles is America's premier gateway for goods and services, and a bustling center for global commerce. Handling cargo as diverse as the world it serves, the Port's economic impact is unprecedented in terms of regional jobs and economic impact. In this leadership role, the Port of Los Angeles has prioritized green growth initiatives as well as security, dedicating millions of dollars to ensure the quality of life for the surrounding communities, while safeguarding cargo, property and the nation's largest long-shore workforce.

"The Port of Los Angeles is run by very progressive management who recognize the national security value of the Port," Farrell says. "We get great encouragement to be the best in the nation and strive to be at the forefront of deploying technology to make the port safe and secure while ensuring the efficient flow of cargo."