Smart Highways for Homeland Security, National Enterprise and the Public Good
|Prof. Robert P. Cook
College of Information Technology
Statesboro GA 30460
Field Trial Preliminaries
Field Trial Press Releases (examples)
The Georgia Southern University College of Information Technology together with the Logistics Institute at Georgia Institute of Technology and the Maritime Logistics Innovation Center in Savannah have received funding, which was sponsored by the Georgia Congressional Delegation, to create a Transportation Research Center (TRC). The Lighthouse Project represents but one component of the TRC. The goal is to conduct field trials related to the theme of “Smart Highways” for homeland security, national enterprise and the public good. The assumption is that a Homeland Security infrastructure that has secondary national benefits2 is the most desirable solution.
The field trials will track RFID-tagged containers (both full and empty) being transported to/from the Port of Savannah and distribution centers. Initially, Highway Weigh Stations are proposed as the data collection points. If possible, field trials will also be conducted at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
According to DOT Secretary Mineta, “transportation is a strategic investment essential to strengthening the American economy.” The Lighthouse Project will enhance homeland security by building an information technology infrastructure to track shipping containers and to monitor their security from their point of origin to their destination. The Lighthouse infrastructure will be prototyped as part of a project to guide millions of containers to their “safe” harbors through the electronic “illumination” of their travel paths. The proposed infrastructure will be designed to be synergistic with the National Intelligent Transportation System Program Plan developed by ITS America for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
The Lighthouse Project “fills the gaps” in the DHS “Secure Seas, Open Ports” Homeland Security Plan by providing container tracking services from the ports to distribution centers. Further, empty containers are also tracked, which is an element not covered by any existing proposal. In order to mitigate the cost of tracking containers and empties through the nation’s highway system, we propose that the information be shared with industry as a “service” to facilitate and enhance national commerce. For example, both distribution centers and ports can benefit from more efficient gate and pickup scheduling by being able to interact with truckers “in transit”. Homeland Security is enhanced by improved tracking of hazardous or sensitive shipments for emergency preparedness.
A 2002 study of 1100 truck drivers included the following observations:
The proposed infrastructure is specifically designed to facilitate more up-to-date information on delivery time.
The State of Georgia wishes to be known as an inter-modal transportation innovator. As such, the University System has developed the Logistics Institute at Georgia Tech and the Center for Logistics and Inter-modal Transportation at Georgia Southern University. A new Maritime Logistics Innovation Center has been created in Savannah and the State’s Congressional Delegation has proposed two new interstates for the South (I14 and I3). The construction schedule could be accelerated by proposing that the new interstates incorporate a “smart” infrastructure.
The public would benefit indirectly from more efficient commerce and increased homeland security. In addition, the public would benefit directly from improved broadband services on interstates and more efficient handling of truck traffic. New broadband services might include Wi-Fi access points, interstate radio and TV, and possibly autonomous driving lanes.
The D.O.T. Office of Freight Management and Operations estimated that by 2020 the U.S. transportation system will handle 23 billion tons of cargo valued at $30 trillion. Truck traffic moving to and from Georgia accounted for 13% of the national average. The graph illustrates that container traffic through Georgia is a significant component of the Nation’s inter-modal infrastructure.
One of the interesting statistics reported in the FMO study was that 57% of the traffic in Georgia could not be associated with a route-specific origin or destination. The purpose of the Lighthouse Project is to test the feasibility of end-to-end cargo tracking from, and to, verified endpoints.
III. Proposed Research
The goal is to enhance homeland security by building an information technology infrastructure to track shipping containers and to monitor their security from their point of origin to their destination. The research question is “what information technology infrastructure to build?” We will explore the attributes of a model that is based on two successful system architectures: business-to-business information interchange standards and the Internet security model.
When two disparate industries need to work together to achieve a common goal, one of the first steps is to integrate the information technology assets. This can be accomplished by introducing an intermediary that converts proprietary data formats into a common external form. The extensible markup language (XML) is a widely-used international standard format.
The application to container tracking is obvious. Different shippers can use different tracking systems but can communicate with a state, or national, infrastructure by using a business-to-business information interchange standard. The proposed research includes developing a draft standard. The initiative is consistent with the Public Meetings currently being held by U.S. Customs for the “Development of Regulations Regarding Mandatory Advanced Electronic Cargo Information.” However, there has been a lack of proposals to track containers once they are off-loaded at a port!
We propose a system architecture that leverages the existing highway weigh stations to perform the much more critical function of tracking container shipments. In fact in our design, the weighing function for container-based cargoes would be completely eliminated because the AVI (automated vehicle identification) transponders would encode each container’s weight, the truck’s load, and the driver’s credentials and driving-time-remaining. Since truck traffic in Georgia is growing faster than road construction, streamlining highway operations will be a growing concern, both regionally and nationally.
The proposed research has the goal of designing a system architecture, prototyping the information interchange standards, and collecting performance data on RFID readers and tags as part of a series of field trials involving the Port of Savannah, Georgia interstates and distribution centers. If possible, the Port of Charleston may choose to participate as well as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Georgia Ports. The Georgia Ports Authority is neck-and-neck with its prime competitor, Charleston, S.C., and is close to becoming the fourth-largest U.S. port for the first time. South Carolina ports had 1,090,500 total TEUs for the fiscal year to date, which includes July 2002 through February 2003, while Georgia ports had 1,004,535 TEUs, according to PIERS. The Georgia Ports Authority has spent, or will spend, about $150 million to bolster its Savannah facilities, which includes $88 million to add an eighth container ship berth and about $17 million to build the ship-to-train Inter-modal Container Transfer Facility as well as $33 million on a paving and overlay program, and $12 million for two state-of-the-art cranes.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Atlanta is closer to Chicago than New York, Philadelphia, or Baltimore. More than 200 million people, 80% of U.S. consumers, are within two hours' flight time from Hartsfield-Jackson, or one day's trucking by highway. When the master planners of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport devised one of the world’s largest passenger terminals, they provided flexibility for the movement of cargo in the design, as well. Hartsfield-Jackson's North and South Cargo Complexes maintain independent refueling and support systems, which allow quick turnaround for airport cargo operators. Hartsfield-Jackson maintains more than 1.2 million square feet of cargo handling space in the North, South and Midfield Cargo Complexes. Each complex offers excellent dockside access to interstate highways 75, 85, 285 and 20. Possible field trials include tracking containers from/to, tracking vehicle movement on-site, and tracking passenger luggage movement.
CSX. The CSX terminal in Atlanta’s Hulsey Yard is second only to Chicago in terms of freight volume for CSX, the largest inter-modal carrier in the United States. Hulsey handles more than 500 trucks and 16 trains per day while accommodating 180 flatcars at a time. It offers freight service to more than 20 states, the District of Columbia and Canada over 22,000 miles of track.
Norfolk Southern. Norfolk Southern Railway’s Inman Yard is the largest of the company’s 33 inter-modal yards and includes the nation’s first inter-modal facility. Its Easy Point Yard, in south Atlanta, is the largest Road Railer hub in the world. Norfolk Southern operates on more than 18,000 miles of track in 20 states. At least two stack trains leave Atlanta daily for the West Coast.
VII. Possible Demonstrations
1. Tag containers at the Port of Savannah, read tags at intervening Weigh Stations, transmit collected data in real-time to base, remove tags on arrival at distribution centers.
2. Tag empty containers at distribution centers, read tags at intervening Weigh Stations, transmit collected data in real-time to base, remove tags on arrival at the Port of Savannah.
3. Tag truck cabs as part of the field trials.
4. Try mounting readers in Highway Patrol cars (or other moving vehicles) to test the feasibility of in-transit data collection.
5. Tag car license plates as part of a “smart highway” study.
6. Involve the Port of Charleston in Field Trials.
7. Involve railroads in Field Trials.
8. Involve Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Field Trials.
9. Involve Fort Gordon or Fort Stewart in Field Trials.
The Transportation Research Center (TRC) funding from DOT starts April 2005. The MLIC is already funded by the State of Georgia and Professors Cook and White are already supported by various research contracts.