Florida ports seeing STARS

Three Florida cities are buying low-cost imaging systems from Science Applications

International Corp. for their seaports to help stem illegal exports of stolen

automobiles to Central and South America.

The Miami Port Authority ordered four Stolen Automobile Recovery Systems

(STARS), said Jim Winso, SAIC's general manager for safety and security

instruments operations. The Jacksonville Port Authority ordered one system,

and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is negotiating to buy two systems,

he said.

STARS is designed to enable U.S. Customs officials and port personnel

to scan the contents of cargo containers without impeding the flow of commerce.

The system, similar to an X-ray, uses a small amount of Cesium-137 to emit

radioactive gamma rays that can be photographed when they penetrate the

container. The detector tower is placed near travel lanes or weigh scales

at a port checkpoint.

A technician at the remote center matches external video of the container,

the image of the contents and the manifest to determine suspicious cargo

that needs to be physically inspected or tracked by law enforcement officials.

STARS is a low- resolution system in SAIC's family of Vehicle and Cargo

Inspection Systems. Each costs about $250,000, Winso said. The Miami and

Jacksonville orders total $1.4 million, with Miami also ordering tollgate

equipment and a remote operating center.

A six-week demonstration of STARS by the Miami-Dade County Stolen Auto

Task Force recovered about $230,000 worth of stolen vehicles earlier this

year, Winso said.

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