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Proceedings Paper

The Houston Ship Channel security: a case study
Author(s): Han Q. Le; P. A. Bellamy; S. S. S. Pei
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Paper Abstract

The Houston Ship Channel (HSC) is a 50-mile long shipping channel that contains many private ports including the Port of Houston Authority. It has a uniquely critical role with respect to the US petroleum energy supply. The HSC security is currently planned for significant enhancement under the auspices of the Harris County and the Houston-based Port Strategic Security Council. The ultimate objective is to comprehensively address the HSC threat matrix. This paper describes the technical effort in support of this program. The HSC security is a complex system of systems that includes the physical control access system, the command, control, communication, and information (C4I) system, and the telecom infrastructure. The strategy is to coordinate the improvements of different components to achieve a high-impact net effectiveness. A key element is a planned high-capacity backbone optical network for integrating the C4I of many different HSC administrative-jurisdictional authorities, which will allow unified situational awareness for a more effective cooperation and coordination. Enhancement of surveillance and intrusion protection is crucial. A feasibility study was conducted for the HSC assuming common surveillance technologies including visible/IR camera, radar, and sonar. The method includes survey and theoretical modeling to detect threats of concern in the HSC natural environment. The result indicates that the HSC unique river-like geography offers both advantages and challenges. The narrow channel allows ease of waterside surveillance, but likely incurs high cost for its great length. In addition, landside security is also important owing to its location amidst urban-industrial zone. Lastly, limitation of the various technologies is discussed by considering the broader challenges of the intrusion problem.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 May 2007
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6540, Optics and Photonics in Global Homeland Security III, 65400T (4 May 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.719610
Show Author Affiliations
Han Q. Le, Univ. of Houston (United States)
P. A. Bellamy, Univ. of Houston (United States)
S. S. S. Pei, Univ. of Houston (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6540:
Optics and Photonics in Global Homeland Security III
Theodore T. Saito; Daniel Lehrfeld; Michael J. DeWeert, Editor(s)

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