Freight Group Launches Satellite Plan. (News and Trends)

By Gips, Michael A. | Security Management, May 2002 | Go to article overview

Freight Group Launches Satellite Plan. (News and Trends)


Gips, Michael A., Security Management


About 200,000 tank trucks and rail cars full of chemicals or fuel are crisscrossing the United States at this moment, each of them at risk to be converted into a terrorist missile if stolen or hijacked.

In light of that threat and the industry's adoption of global positioning systems (GPSs) for tracking vehicles and cargo, a recently developed consortium of 25 businesses in asset tracking, vehicle monitoring, emergency response, mobile resource management systems, and related fields wants to expand the use of OPS on these assets and establish common standards for security-related messaging and data encryption for these OPS location devices.

Formed in late 2001, the Freight Transportation Security Consortium (FTSC) hopes, in part, to expand GPS technology from tractors, where they are typically used, to tank railcars and trailers, according to Drew Robertson, director of the FTSC and president of ASI Transmatch, a group of professionals who specialize in freight transportation issues.

The truckers and shippers that already deploy GP--mostly large companies--use many different proprietary communications protocols. FTSC's ultimate goal, Robertson says, is to centralize all this security-related data so that the approximately 75,000 tank cars and 125,000 trucks in the hazmat supply chain can be tracked by a central monitoring system, which can communicate with law enforcement if an incident occurs. He says that the FTSC will draw on existing relationships that consortium members have with law enforcement to spread the word.

Many companies don't have the back-office infrastructure to monitor their assets, says Robertson, so businesses designated by the consortium would fill that role. The centralization would help first responders, he adds.

For tracking purposes, the FTSC would create common definitions for security-related messages, such as location, driver, and load status. For example, explains Robertson, to track location each manufacturer uses a code that describes longitude and latitude in a unique format; under the FTSC, a single format would become the standard. …

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