Vidsys Customer London Gateway Interviewed by Security Management

Preventing Port Problems

​More than 90 percent of global trade is carried by sea, according to the International Maritime Organization, presenting a cost-effective method for goods to be shipped around the world.

One port that brings goods closer to customers, resulting in savings, is London Gateway, a deep-sea shipping port owned by DP (Dubai Ports) World. With 78 terminals in 53 countries globally, DP World is the third largest port operator in the world.

“One of our customers will save more than £1 million a month, just in transport costs, and take more than 2,500 trucks off the road,” says Colin Hitchcock, harbor master and head of International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) at London Gateway, which is located on the north bank of the River Thames.

But this high transaction rate also presents an opportunity for thieves, making effective security a must to protect the goods being shipped and received. “We’ve been operating about four years now, and the first drug heist was a big deal,” says Hitchcock. “Now it’s sort of two or three times a week, to be honest.”

Drugs are just one of the many security concerns keeping DP World on the lookout. “I have threats of illegal immigrants coming in on ships, I’ve got people trying to break into the port itself to get cargo out of the containers, and then obviously we have cargos of interest that we have to monitor,” Hitchcock says.

“There’s a big problem with cars stolen-to-order, because we’re only a few miles from London. Basically, you can steal a car, put it in a box, and get it out of the country,” Hitchcock explains, adding that most of the stolen vehicles are headed for West Africa. “You can put two Range Rovers and an E-Class Mercedes dangling in a 40-foot container—so that’s quite big business going out.”

While London Gateway works closely with law enforcement and global crime agencies to counter these threats, it wanted to invest in a holistic physical security information management (PSIM) system to manage the various assets and operations around the port, which covers seven square miles.

When Hitchcock was told by the head office in Dubai that he could choose the security systems he needed, he says he was looking for a company that could customize its platform to meet London Gateway’s needs. “Anything we purchased had to be future-proofed and able to grow,” he notes.

In 2016, the port turned to the Converged Security and Information Management (CSIM) software from Vidsys, which brings together multiple sources of data and security information into one platform for situational awareness.

With CSIM, all of the port’s security and information management systems feed into one platform that provides situational awareness for all security and operations onsite, which include cameras, alarms, sensors, access control systems, and more.

Tying access control into CSIM has allowed the port to manage the various systems that grant or deny access to users throughout the port. “We have three main buildings, and each has its own access control,” Hitchcock says. “We’ve looked at each of the jobs that people do and asked, ‘Where does that person need to go, where does that person not need to go?’”

He adds that there are 55 different levels of access at the port, and that the server rooms have the most restricted access. “If anyone opens the server rooms an alarm goes off in the control room. We have cameras in there, and that’s automatically monitored from inside,” he says.

Read the full article on Security Management here.