The Source
Issue Date • Winter 2003, Update 2012

Ports Need Accessible, Effective Security Solutions

Emergency Advisory Radio:  a New Tool in a New Age of Port Security
The world changed on September 11, 2001, and we're all still playing catch-up. In the process, we're discovering that the more secure we try to make something, usually the more complicated, frustrating and inaccessible it becomes to those who have to use it. Ports of entry, a critical line of defense, are certainly no exception. Airline, ship, truck and train facilities inextricably linked across the country comprise the US port network. This means that if a dangerous container makes it past Customs into one port, it could be transported anywhere in the US within a matter of days. Port managers, in a very real sense, first responders, are adding new security measures left and right. Most struggle with how to prevent terrorism and, at the same time, ensure that employees and customers get where they need to go quickly.

An inexpensive yet effective way for port managers to ease this ingress/egress is to broadcast to users through the AM radio receivers in their vehicles. Coupled with signs that tell the port regulars (and visitors) what frequency to tune to for instructions, AM Emergency Advisory Radio Stations can help explain what port users are supposed to do when they enter and why — bridging the expectancy gap for those used to doing things the old way and easing confusion for newcomers. Confusion is an enemy to productivity and goodwill.

Useful in Daily Operations as well as Emergencies
If one port were to go down, in addition to the people in the vicinity of the compromised port itself, ports in many other cities would be affected. Any container has the potential to cause catastrophe. Traditionally port managers haven't had to be overly concerned about security — rather, about turnaround time and profit. Getting the cargo (e.g., bananas and steel) out the door remains a high priority. AM radio stations in the vicinity facilitate daily port traffic. And, during emergencies, station operators can quickly switch to emergency-protocol broadcasts to prevent people from getting hung up at gates and dock areas or to evaluate in an orderly fashion.

ALERT AM Emergency Advisory Radio Systems may be triggered to broadcast urgent messages any number of ways — by telephone, radio or even from a dispatcher's console. They interface automatically with 'All Hazard' warnings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), including a new Specific Area Message Encoding feature that targets broadcasts to counties involved. The system has a 4-day operational battery backup and power-loss notification module and can handle up to 250 messages arranged in 20 different play lists. Messages can be prerecorded and set aside for anticipated emergency scenarios or recorded immediately. And the system includes live cut-in ability as well as computer-programming and other options.

Minimal Cost Compared to Other Security Measures
Most emergency managers today feel there are too many entities, too many things that need to be done to adequately secure them and not enough money to go around. Port first responders experience this same scarcity. Even so, they are working fervently to thwart terrorist attacks, beefing up perimeter defenses with motion detectors and surveillance cameras. They are looking at smart cards and biometrics for gates. They are getting greatly enhanced computer systems for tracking and reporting. All of these measures cost millions of dollars.

ALERT AM is low-cost technology that allows ports to get the word to patrons, employees and visitors immediately, 24/7. It's rare that a solution comes along that only requires a few thousand dollars. ALERT AM Emergency Advisory Radio Systems average $21K per station, installed. Each station covers a 25 to 75 square miles. Fixed stations may be networked and synchronized to expand the range. Portable stations (and signs) may be deployed to trouble spots.

Easy to Install and Maintain
Our Emergency Advisory Radio Systems offer a variety of installation choices to ports for fixed stations that may be networked to extend the normal 25-75 square-mile listening range. Location is everything. Antenna mounting styles are designed to fit each situation.

Station maintenance is minimal. See how easy. Moreover, we are on call 24/7 with technical support for the life of the product.

Planning a station is easy, too. Personal assistance comes free, and a network of our representatives blankets the country to pay site visits and offer installation support. Contact us to brainstorm ideas for your application.
Port of New Orleans
Port of New Orleans Travelers Information Station
The Port of New Orleans has 5 emergency advisory radio systems. One broadcasts general information on 1690 kHz and is run by the Port itself. Content is for all motorists.

P&O Ports of North America runs the other 4 stations for shipping franchises, using the Port.

As trucks enter with individual identity passes, each is verified for a reservation. Signs tell the visiting truckers to listen to certain frequencies (1630, 1650, 1660 or 1670), depending on each truck's status.

Other ports using information radio include...

- Port of Newark, NJ
- Port of Stockton, CA
- Customs & Border Protection
   See a 2012 CBP case study.
- Numerous Airports

See 'Alert' Stations across the Nation.
Port of New Orleans Travelers Information Station