The Port of Brisbane is eyeing a suite of biometric systems including facial and iris recognition to prevent manual checks during elevated security incidents.
Live security footage can be monitored via iPhone (Credit: CBSi)
If the port were to implement Maritime Security (MARSEC) Level 2, where all vehicles entering the port are to be checked, the port — which stretches 110 kilometres and hosts some 2600 ships a year — would grind to a halt.
This standard would become necessary during a time of heightened national security.
In order to ease this problem, the port and National ICT Australia (NICTA) are considering a biometric gate system that would use scanners to automatically verify the identity of drivers and vehicles leaving the port.
Project leader Brian Lovell said that one option would be to verify drivers using facial or iris scanning as they pass through the gates, and automatic number-plate recognition to identify vehicles.
"It may require drivers to look into a camera on their way through, or we could use mobile iris scanning technology which has come a long way," Lovell said.
Part of the system includes four $10,000-plus high-definition IP cameras with a resolution up to 16 megapixels, which provide port security and police with detailed video information feeds. The cameras would replace the 0.3 megapixel analog CCTV system and allows the footage to be centrally monitored.
Real-time footage can also be viewed over secure links through iPhone handsets.
Lovell said the system could take advantage of Brisbane's plans to run fibre through its sewerage system to deliver the larger data feeds generated by the new cameras.
The port is also upgrading its communications systems with inbound vessels by using mapping capabilities to help identify the location of ships carrying dangerous goods.
"It also has systems to monitor the local environment so the port will know where dangerous cargo shipments are if for instance a fire breaks out, and in what direction the fire may travel," he said.
The more detailed security feeds will also remove the chance for individuals in the security reporting chain to play down the severity of incidents to government officials, ministers and police, according to Lovell.
"There are sometimes issues of Chinese whispers with security incidents when they are reported to a minister," he said. "The information tends to be couched in garbled language if [individuals] are tempted to play down an incident."
The biometrics system is already in use by Ipswich City Council to prevent rising incidents of violence along its busy CBD nightclub district.