How Can Biometrics Enhance the Transportation and Cargo Security?

Cargo security issues – a growing problem

$30 billion worth of cargo lost each year, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation; deceptive pickups – in which a thief poses as a legal driver and hauls a load away – spiked 763% from 2009 to 2012, according to FreightWatch International. Richard Murphy, president of Murphy Warehouse Company says: “The cargo theft problem has intensified in the past decade, because cargo value has increased, and thieves have grown more sophisticated.” This trend has prompted companies to enhance driver identification procedures and more secure access control systems.

Furthermore, monetary losses from theft, along with the dangers posed by criminals sneaking illicit materials such as bombs or drugs into containers in transit, make the strengthening of supply chain vulnerabilities critical. Therefore, in order to secure cargo, supply chain professionals have to employ a multi-layered security system that integrates the latest technology.

In the past few years, many logistics providers have implemented different technologies to enhance the security for their transportation systems. For example, some companies use GPS systems like 3PL to define geographical boundaries and monitor remotely; others like Yard management use RFID (Radio-frequency identification) to identify and track goods. Among all these technologies, biometrics known as the most advanced and secure technology is emerging as a viable solution for fighting frauds in transportation.

Biometric technology - the emerging solution to enhance transportation and cargo security

Biometric technology – the emerging solution to enhance transportation and cargo security

Biometric solutions for transportation

With biometrics, pressing and complex security problems which cargo transportation companies are facing including theft, tampering, hijacking, contamination of critical cargo, bombs, smuggling, audit trails (human error, easy to forge) can be resolved.

Identity confirmation: each driver will be issued biometric identity card, this type of ID card will allow dispatch to track lost or stolen properties by tying them to a geographical position and tying a vehicle to a specific driver. This will not only reduce inventory loss but also maximize car carrying safety.

Access control: biometric security systems can authenticate the identities of individuals to grant their accesses to critical cargo, secure areas of transportation facilities and associated information technology systems. Biometrics integrated into sophisticated security systems can make it much more difficult for culprits of terrorism, sabotage or theft. More than that, having a biometrics system in cases that can scan through large groups of people is the way to go as it reduces processing time, resources, human errors and forges.

Biometric applications in transportation

Back to the 90s, biometric solutions had already been used for access control. For example, in June 1999, hand recognition system was adopted in Rotterdam seaport (central hub for European commerce) to control truck driver to access the port. Or even earlier in 1996, Electronic Supply Chain Manifest used biometric identification linked to smart cards to secure electronic manifests and confirm identity of all individuals originating, transporting or receiving cargo.

One the most recent applications is biometric access control readers to authenticate Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC) by 3M Cogent. MTSA (Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002) requires individuals who access secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels to obtain a TWIC card — a secure credential containing personalized biometric information. The biometric readers can authenticate the TWIC cards and verify the card owner identity, helping to ensure only those who have privileged access able to enter secure maritime facilities.

Future adoption & conclusion

Inter-modal transportation is now the one of the fastest growing sectors of the transportation industry. While traditional paper-based tracking may cause errors, forges and cannot identify the individuals handling specific shipments; electronic-based vehicle tracking and manifest systems improve the accessibility and usability of audit trails but they unable to address the accountability issue. This opens the door for the adoption of biometrics to detect process vulnerabilities and bring higher level of safety and productivity to the transportation industry.

“Over the next several years, this infrastructure, integrating land, sea and air transportation, will be more tightly linked, more closely monitored and more efficiently operated than ever before as emerging biometric technologies will provide the tools to create reliable chains of custody and trust. “ forecasted by C. Maxine Most, Acuity Market Intelligence.