By combining security purposes with such other functions as permitting, accounting and tariff control at its cargo gates, the Port of Miami has found a real winner.
The Port of Miami - slated to be the sole 2009 Information Technology award winner honored Oct. 28 at the American Association of Port Authorities convention in Galveston, Texas - is touting its installation as the most technologically advanced cargo gate system in the United States.
"It used to be that security and commerce were at opposite ends," said Louis Noriega, chief of seaport information systems at the Port of Miami, "but we've been able to get security and commerce to work together here."
While facilitating enforcement of all federal, state, local and port-specific security mandates, including those related to credentialing and access control, the Port of Miami gate installation interfaces with systems such as those used to retrieve port users' account balances and apply scale-weight charges based upon the port's tariff table. The system is now being further enhanced through automated links with terminal operators.
Fully integrated with the port's legacy system, the solution, developed in conjunction with Science Application International Corp., was put in place for $3.7 million and costs about $188,000 a year to operate. It deploys such field equipment as cameras, proximity readers, magnetic-stripe readers, biometrics, optical character recognition readers, card imagers and microphones, all backed by transactional control servers, a radiation control server, a continuously running middleware "listener" program and an interactive "transaction handler" graphical user interface.
Results have included strengthened enforcement of security and business rules plus noticeable enhancement of customer satisfaction, largely due to swifter turn times for legitimate traffic.
The Port of Miami's port director, Bill Johnson, commended Noriega and the port's information technology team for coming up with a highly effective, customized solution.
"It's easy to just take something off the shelf," Mr. Johnson said. "To actually look at what your needs are and develop something that specifically meets those needs takes a lot of creativity and a lot of commitment.
"We need to be vigilant in continuing to make these kinds of substantial investments," he added. "It's all about efficiency and being able to lower operating costs."