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Container Security with Geographic Information System

Dr Kamal Abdellatif Abdalla

Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Helmut Kraenzle
Professor and Director,
Masters Program in GIS and Remote Sensing,
United Arab Emirates University, Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates
[email protected]
Professor in Geography,
James Madison University, Harrisonburg,
Virginia, U.S.A.

According to the Container Security Initiative (CSI) fact sheet, “about 90 percent of all world cargo moves by container, and almost half of incoming trade by value arrives in the United States by sea containers” [1]. The huge number of containers traveling around the world has alerted concerns in safety and security. According to the US Customs and Border Protection, in 2003, the United States had a total of 22,727,291 containers entering the country that year [2]. In Hans Binnendijk’s article, Defense Horizons, he writes that under procedures in the United States as of the year 2002 when the article was written, “approximately 2 percent of containers are selected for inspection to ensure compliance with US laws governing importations, to determine appropriate entry of restricted merchandise such as hazardous material, and to intercept prohibited items such as narcotics and other contraband” [3].

However, more recently, according to the 2004 Fact Sheet written by the Customs and Border Patrol Agency (“Fact Sheet: Cargo Container Security—U.S. Customs and Border Protection Reality”), the United States customs “use intelligence to screen information on 100% of cargo entering ports, and all cargo that presents a risk to [the United States] is inspected using large x-ray and radiation detection equipment” [4].

The 2004 Fact Sheet release continues in the following passage:

Following 9/11, [the United States] developed and implemented a smarter strategy to identify, target, and inspect cargo containers before they reach U.S. ports…. The strategy is to rule out potential threats before arrival at [the] borders and ports. In fact, the security measures now in place allowed us to rule out 94% of the cargo as potential threats prior to arrival. [In 2004], six percent (6 %) of total cargo containers were identified as potential threats and were physically inspected immediately upon arrival [4].

Containers are usually measured in Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units or TEUs. For example a twenty-foot container would be 1 TEU, and a forty-foot container would be 2 TEUs. The table below shows the top ten ports in the world in total cargo traffic in 2004 [5]. Six of the top ten ports or are located in Asia with Hong Kong at the top with 21,984,000 TEUs in 2004.

Top 10 Ports in the World in Total Cargo Traffic

1 Hong Kong China 21,984
2 Singapore Singapore 21,329
3 Shanghai China 14,557
4 Shenzhen China 13,615
5 Busan South Korea 11,430
6 Kaohsiung Taiwan 9,714
7 Rotterdam Netherlands 8,281
8 Los Angeles United States 7,321
9 Hamburg Germany 7,003
10 Dubai United Arab Emirates 6,429

Source: AAPA Port Security Statistics [5]

In 2006, Dubai Ports World (DP World) of the United Arab Emirates made international news with the acquisition of the British company .